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THE UNIVERSITY OF WINCHESTER
ABSTRACT FOR THESIS
Mary Sumner: Religion, Mission, Education and Womanhood 18761921
Sue (Susan Margaret Alison) Anderson-Faithful
Faculty of Education Health and Social Care
Doctor of Philosophy
March 2014
Mary Sumner (1828-1921) founded the Anglican Mothers’ Union, which
originated as a parish mothers’ meeting in 1876, and followed the Girls’ Friendly
Society as the second women’s organisation to be sanctioned by the Church of
England. By 1921, the Mothers’ Union had a membership extending across the
British Empire and transnationally. Mary Sumner sought to educate mothers in
Christian values and pedagogy so that they might educate their children to be
future citizens of empire. Her life trajectory occurred against a context of
evangelical religious revival, contest over matters of doctrinal authority, the
proliferation of women’s philanthropy, the growth of the British Empire and
changes in education characterised by state intervention in working-class
elementary schooling and the negotiation of educational provision for middleclass girls. This thesis uses primary source material to build on institutional
histories of the Mothers’ Union to situate Mary Sumner in networks, emphasise
gender and class as mediating of opportunity, and envisage her religious ‘mission’
as educational.
The thesis draws on the thinking tools of Pierre Bourdieu, habitus, field and
capital, to analyse Mary Sumner’s negotiation of constraint and agency in relation
to the fields of religion, mission (understood as religious and philanthropic
activism ‘at home’ and overseas) and education through which womanhood runs
as a connecting theme. Bourdieu’s concept of reproduction is used to position
Mary Sumner in relation to the operation of power across domestic, local and
global spaces. The thesis concludes that using Bourdieu’s ‘thinking tools’
highlights how Mary Sumner used opportunities for women within her temporal
and socio-cultural context in ways that were complicit with notions of
1
womanhood reflective of patriarchal domination and accepting of hierarchies of
class and ‘race’, yet were innovative in her achievement of access for an
organisation of women within Anglicanism that was recognised for its educational
work.
2
Contents
Abstract
1
Abbreviations used in the thesis
7
Lists of tables and figures
8, 9
Declaration and Copyright Statement
10
Acknowledgements
11
Introduction
12
Mary Sumner: biographical outline
14
Mary Sumner: primary sources
18
Standpoint of the author
22
Mary Sumner and the lens of gender
24
Chapter 1 - Review of Literature
28
Introduction
28
Mary Sumner: existing literature
30
The significance of networks
33
Mary Sumner’s network: bishops; bishops’ wives; Anglican
37
activists
Mary Summer: Religious context
41
Networks and doctrinal diversity
41
Anglicanism and Evangelicals
41
Tractarianism and Roman Catholicism
44
Unitarianism
46
Spiritual womanhood purity and motherhood
48
‘Women’s’ mission’: philanthropy and society
51
Empire, Church, mission: and womanhood
55
Education: popular education, religion, philanthropy and
59
women
Conclusion
Chapter 2 - Theoretical Standpoint and Methodological Approach:
65
68
the Conceptual Tools of Pierre Bourdieu
Introduction
68
Pierre Bourdieu: theory, practice and epistemological position
69
3
Bourdieu’s conceptual tools: habitus, field and capital
70
Education, symbolic violence, the cultural arbitrary and 76
pedagogic work
Bourdieu: language and religion
80
Bourdieu: gender and class
82
Bourdieu: life trajectory and networks
83
Bourdieu: analysis and chapter structure
85
Chapter 3 - Mary Sumner and Religion
87
Introduction
87
Mary Sumner: religious habitus
88
Family life, living religion, capital assets and symbolic gifts
88
Doctrinal belief in Mary Sumner’s kinship network: a
97
context of contested religious capital
Mary Sumner: wider habitus, notions of capital, field
102
manoeuvres, networking to establish the Mothers’ Union
The Mothers’ Union as an Anglican organisation: women in the
112
Church, capital and field manoeuvres
The province of women: marriage, motherhood, morality,
117
the symbolic capital of purity
Negotiating marriage: the good husband and father,
122
capital assets and symbolic rewards
The patriotic Mothers’ Union: Church, state and claims to
126
territory in the field of power
Conclusion: thinking with Bourdieu
Mary Sumner: dispositions of habitus and horizons of
135
135
Possibility
Mary Sumner: capital and field manoeuvres
136
Mary Sumner, the Mothers’ Union and the Anglican
138
Church vis-à-vis the state/national field of power
Chapter 4 - Mary Sumner and Mission
143
Introduction
143
Mary Sumner: habitus; kinship networks; traditions of
145
philanthropy; evangelical religion and civilizing mission.
Traditions of philanthropy and evangelical mission
145
Mary Sumner: parochial philanthropy and missionary
149
4
philanthropy via organisations 1851-1886
Travels in the ‘East’: Mary Sumner in the ‘contact zone’,
152
the habituated gaze, notions of religious and cultural
capital
Mary Sumner: habitus; wider network; mission via the Girls’
161
Friendly Society (GFS)
The GFS: Woman’s mission, service, missionary
162
Philanthropy
The GFS: overseas mission and home identities
Mary Sumner: the Mothers’ Union, women’s mission and
164
170
Philanthropy as mission
Women’s mission
170
The Mothers’ Union in the field of philanthropic
173
organisations ‘at home’
Mary Sumner: fields and power; the Mothers’ Union; missionary
177
organisations; colonies and contact zones; Church and Empire
Missionary identities and inspiration linking home and
177
overseas
Field manoeuvres: support for missionaries; links with
180
missionary organisations
Mary Sumner field manoeuvres: networking overseas,
182
the mother of the Mothers’ Union, attitudes to
indigenous members
Mary Sumner, the Mothers’ Union, empire and the
185
Church overseas
Conclusion: Thinking with Bourdieu
Mary Summer dispositions of habitus towards ‘women’s
190
190
mission’, missionary philanthropy and missionary activity
Mary Sumner capital and field manoeuvres
192
Mary Sumner, the Mothers Union, the GFS, the Church
193
and the imperial field of power
Chapter 5 - Mary Sumner and Education
199
Introduction
199
Mary Sumner: educational habitus
201
5
Mary Sumner’s experience of childhood, educational
201
capital, attitudes to women and education, educational
activism in her kinship network
Educational context, parochial work and educational
205
initiatives affirmative and informative of Mary Sumner’s
educational habitus and horizons of possibility
Education begins at Home
212
Mary Sumner’s notions of childhood and child rearing
212
Education in mothering for all classes
222
Spreading the word: further field manoeuvres in education
226
The dissemination of religious knowledge through printed 226
materials
The power of reading: education through the Mothers’
227
Union magazines, Charlotte Yonge, Mothers in Council,
the Mothers’ Union Journal
Education matters in the Mothers’ Union and networking
239
with other agents and organisations
Mary Sumner and the Mothers’ Union: resistance to
242
Secular education
Conclusion thinking with Bourdieu
246
Dispositions of habitus and horizons of possibility
246
Field Manoeuvres
247
Fields and Fields of power
249
Chapter 6 - Conclusion: Thinking Mary Sumner with Bourdieu,
253
Reproduction, Symbolic Violence and Changes in the Doxa
Primary Sources
267
Secondary Sources
273
Appendices
Appendix 1 - Mary Sumner and the Mothers’ Union: her activities
291
And corporate development
Appendix 2 - Biographical notes on Women Activists
295
6
Abbreviations
BWEA - British Women’s Emigration Society
CETS - Church of England Temperance Society
CEZMS - Church of England Zenana Mission Society
CMS- Church Mission Society
GFS - Girls’ Friendly Society
HRO - Hampshire Record Office
LEA - Local Education Authority
LPL - Lambeth Palace Library
MIC – Mothers in Council
MU - Mothers’ Union
MUJ - Mothers’ Union Journal
NUWW - National Union of Women Workers
PNEU- Parents’ National Education Union
SACS - South African Colonisation Society
SPCK - Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge
SPG- Society for the Propagation of the Gospel
WDMU – Winchester Diocesan Mothers’ Union
7
Tables
Table 1: Activists in the Mothers’ Union and Girls’ Friendly Society
104
Table 2: Episcopal contacts of George and Mary Sumner
106
Table 3:Wording of Mothers’ Union Cards
128
Table 4; Royal patronage of the Mothers’ Union and Girls’ Friendly
130
Society
8
Figures
Figure 1: Mary Sumner’s Expanding Network Connections
108
Figure 2: Mary Sumner’s Strategies for Promoting the Mothers’ Union
110
and its Aims
Figure 3: Mary Sumner and the Mothers’ Union Field Trajectory
142
Religion
Figure 4: Mary Sumner’s Mission Network Connections
176
Figure 5: Mary Sumner and the Mothers’ Union Expansion in Fields
197
Overseas
Figure 6: Mary Sumner and the Mothers’ Union Educational Practice
242
Figure 7: Mary Sumner and the Mothers’ Union Progress Trajectory
252
Towards Power in the Field of Education
Figure 8: Mary Sumner Horizons of Possibility
254
Figure 9: Mary Sumner Activism in Related Fields
257
9
Declaration, Copyright Statement and Intellectual Property Rights
No portion of the work referred to in the thesis has been submitted in support of
an application for another degree or qualification of this or any other university or
other institute of learning.
I confirm that this thesis is entirely my own work.
Copyright in text of this Thesis rests with the author. Copies (by any process)
either in full, or of extracts, may be made only in accordance with instructions
given by the author. Details may be obtained from the RKE Office. This page must
form part of any such copies made. Further copies (by any process) of copies
made in accordance with such instructions may not be made without the
permission (in writing) of the author.
10
Acknowledgements
With sincerest thanks to my supervisory team for their expertise, dedication,
patience and humour. Thanks too to my dear friends and colleagues at the Centre
for the History of Women’s Education for their intellectual and emotional support.
11
Introduction
Mary Sumner (1828-1921) was a supporter of Anglican denominational education
and is remembered as the instigator of the Mothers’ Union (MU),1 which
originated as a parish mothers’ meeting in 1876.2 She drew on religiously
sanctioned notions of womanhood to promote the role of mothers as religious
educators in the home. The MU motto was ‘train up a child in the way he should
go’.3 The MU followed the 1875 Girls’ Friendly Society (GFS) as the second
religious organisation to be established for women, run by women, sanctioned by
the Anglican Church of England.4 It was adopted as an official organisation by the
Diocese of Winchester from 1886,5 and by 1921 had a worldwide membership of
391,409.6
Mary Sumner sought to educate the populace ‘at home’ and abroad in Christian
values through the dissemination of religious knowledge.7 It was her intention to
reinforce the existing social order and to improve morality, nationally and
transnationally. Mary Sumner drew upon her religious and social network to
promote her vision of appropriate behaviour in both men and women and to
legitimise her claims to authority. She illustrates what Gail Malmgreen considers
‘the central paradox of religion as opiate and embodiment of institutional sexism
1
Henceforward initials will be used unless in quotations, titles or headings.
Pamela Johnston, 'Sumner, Mary Elizabeth (1828–1921)', Oxford Dictionary of National
Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).
[http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/38034, accessed 27 Nov. 2012].
3
Mary Sumner, Home Life (Winchester: Warren and Son, 1895), 10. MU aims were
expressed as 'Objects': Object 2 - 'To awaken in mothers a sense of their great
responsibility as mothers in the training of their boys and girls (the future fathers and
mothers of England).
4
Mary Heath-Stubbs, Friendships Highway; Being the History of the Girls' Friendly Society
(London: Girls' Friendly Society, 1926); Agnes Louisa Money, History of the Girls’ Friendly
Society (London: Wells Gardner, Darton, 1902). The GFS intended to protect the chastity
of girls and young working women by educating them in Christian values and behaviour.
Henceforward initials will be used unless in quotations or headings.
5
Mary Porter, Mary Woodward and Horatia Erskine, Mary Sumner Her Life and Work and a
Short History of the Mothers' Union (Winchester: Waren and Sons, 1921).
6
'Obituary of Mary Sumner', The Times 12 Aug. 1921.
7
David Wardle, English Popular Education, 1780-1970 (London: Cambridge University
Press, 1970), Chapters 1, 2 and 3. The thesis follows Wardle's understanding of popular
education as concerned with social regeneration, influenced by political, social and
cultural factors and extending beyond formal systems.
2
12
and religion as transcendent and liberating force’.8 Attention to Mary Sumner in
existing Anglican institutional histories of the MU is from a faith perspective.9 This
thesis considers religion as a socio-cultural construct,10 a delineator of gendered
identities, but also as a source of women’s authority.11 It also seeks to build on
existing references to Mary Sumner by emphasising the educational dimension of
her activism.
The thesis will analyse Mary Sumner’s negotiation of constraint and agency12 and
her position in upholding and transacting power across domestic, local and global
spaces in relation to the fields of religion, mission and education with
womanhood as a connecting theme. The thesis offers a different approach to
Mary Sumner’s life and work by drawing on the work of Pierre Bourdieu,13 who
understands social reality as a relational interplay between agents [persons] and
social structures [family, institutions]. It will apply Bourdieu’s ideas to analyse the
cultural forces, notably, religion and education, nuanced by class and gender that
were informative of Mary Sumner’s identity, values, horizons of possibility and
claims to authority. The thesis will deploy Bourdieu’s analytical thinking tools of
habitus, capital and field (which will be discussed in Chapter 2) to situate Mary
Sumner in her networks and analyse her activism in relation to the values and
practices of dominant social, gender and religious categories. Bourdieu’s theory of
reproduction, which sees dominant groups seeking to maintain their position
through the assertion of their preferred values as legitimate, will be applied to
locate Mary Sumner as an agent of, or recipient of, domination. Attention will be
8
Gail Malmgreen, Religion in the Lives of English Women, 1760-1930 (London: Croom
Helm, 1986), 7.
9
Cordelia Moyse, A History of the Mothers' Union: Women Anglicanism and Globalisation,
1876-2008 (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2009).
10
Pierre Bourdieu, 'Genesis and Structure of the Religious Field', Comparative Social
Research 13, no. 1 (1991 ): 1-44.
11
Sue Morgan, A Passion for Purity: Ellice Hopkins and the Politics of Gender in the LateVictorian Church (Bristol: Centre for Comparative Studies in Religion and Gender,
University of Bristol, 1999).
12
Helen Gunter, Leaders and Leadership in Education (London: Paul Chapman, 2001).
5.’Agency is concerned with subjective capability and capacity to control, for example,
through the exercise of choice and discretion’, Sarah Jane Aiston, ‘Women, Education and
Agency, 1600-2000 an Historical Perspective’ in Women, Education and Agency, ed. Jean
Spence, Sarah Jane Aistonand Maureen Meikle (London and New York: Routledge, 2010),
1-8 . Agency is understood as the ability to act notwithstanding a degree of circumstantial
constraint towards the realisation of (self defined) goals.
13
Pierre Bourdieu and Loic J.D. Wacquant, An Invitation to Reflexive Sociology (Cambridge:
Polity Press, 1992).
13
given to the negotiation of women’s gendered horizons of possibility, in relation
to the reproduction or negotiation of power.14
The following sections of this introduction provide a biographical outline of Mary
Sumner and discuss the nature and limitations of the evidence upon which the
thesis draws. The standpoint of the author will be noted and it will outline the use
of gender as a lens in relation to Mary Sumner’s activism and context.
Mary Sumner: biographical outline
Mary Elizabeth Heywood was born on 31st December 1828 at Swinton near
Manchester.15 Her parents were practising Anglicans but had been prominent
members of the influential Manchester Unitarian Cross Street Chapel.16 Mary’s
mother Mary Elizabeth Barton (d.1870) was the daughter of John Barton of
Swinton, a landowner and also a Unitarian.17 Her father was Thomas Heywood
(1797-1861), the third son of the banker Nathaniel Heywood. He was educated at
Manchester Grammar School and in 1818 became a partner in Heywood’s bank.18
In 1833, Thomas Heywood retired from the bank and assumed the life of a
country gentleman at Hope End in Herefordshire.19 It was here that Mary spent
14
Habitus, field and capital are Bourdieu's 'conceptual tools' of analysis. His ideas will be
examined in the chapter (Chapter 2) on theoretical stance and methodological approach.
The terms reproduction and symbolic violence were introduced by Bourdieu in Pierre
Bourdieu, Jean-Claude Passeron and Richard Nice, Reproduction in Education, Society and
Culture (London: Sage Publications, 1977). The French edition of this work appeared in
1970.
15
To avoid confusion with other members of the Sumner family, following initial
references to ‘Mary’ and ‘Mary Heywood’, I will refer to ‘Mary Sumner’ throughout the
thesis.
16
Chris W. Sutton and Alan G. Crosby, 'Thomas Heywood (1797–1866)', Oxford Dictionary
of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2010).
[http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/13191, accessed 27 Nov. 2012]; Anita
McConnell, 'Heywood, Sir Benjamin, First Baronet (1793–1865)', Oxford Dictionary of
National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004),
[http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/1317911, accessed Aug. 2012]; Isabel Mary
Heywood and Sir Thomas Percival Heywood, Reminiscences, Letters and Journals of
Thomas Percival Heywood, Baronet. Arranged by His Eldest Daughter (Isabel Mary). With a
Preface by the Rev. George Body (Printed for private circulation: Manchester, 1899), 4-5.
17
Johnston, 'Sumner, Mary Elizabeth (1828–1921)'.
18
Sutton and Crosby, 'Thomas Heywood (1797–1866)'.
19
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 4-5.
14
what is recorded as ‘a girlhood that was not only happy, but was also
characterised by an amount of freedom’, with her elder sister Maggie and brother
Tom.20 The Heywoods were attentive to their children’s religious and cultural
education.21 Mary was an accomplished musician, spoke several languages and
was encouraged to enjoy history by her antiquarian father, an early member of
the Chetham’s Society and the collector of a library of tracts and pamphlets.22
Thomas Heywood was committed to philanthropy and education as a means of
social improvement. He established a school and funded the Anglican Church in
the parish of Wellington Heath.23 His brother Sir Benjamin Heywood, a noted
promoter of Mechanics’ Institutes, was also interested in education and
philanthropy.24 Benjamin, like Thomas, had joined the Established Church. In
1838, Benjamin was created a baronet in acknowledgement of his parliamentary
support of the 1832 Reform Bill. Thomas Heywood likewise achieved public office
as Borough Reeve of Salford in 1826, and as High Sheriff of Herefordshire in
1840.25
The Heywoods reinforced kinship ties through marriage to relatives. Mary’s elder
sister Margaret (d. Jan. 30 1894) married Sir Benjamin’s son, her cousin (Sir)
Thomas Percival Heywood (MP for Salford) (May 19th 1846). Mary Sumner’s
daughter Margaret Effie (1849-1916) married Arthur Percival the eldest son of her
aunt Margaret in 1872.26
In the winter of 1846 the Heywoods were in Rome with their daughters Margaret
and Mary, where they were introduced to George Sumner (1824-1909). George,
then aged 22, was enjoying a period of travel after graduating from Oxford and
20
Ibid., 5-6.
Mary Sumner, Account of Her Early Life at Hope End 1828-46, LPL MU/MSS/2/12.
22
Sutton and Crosby, 'Thomas Heywood (1797–1866)’.
23
Sumner, 'Early Life’.
24
McConnell, 'Heywood, Sir Benjamin, First Baronet (1793–1865)’.
25
David W. Bebbington, ‘Unitarian Members of Parliament in the Nineteenth Century’,
(2011). [http://hdl.handle.net/1893/1647, accessed 20 Aug. 2011].
25
Heywood and Heywood, Reminiscences: 27-30; Heywood Sumner, 'Memorials of the
Family of Sumner from the Sixteenth Century to 1904', (Southampton 1904). Porter,
Woodward and Erskine give 1871 as the date for Margaret Effie's marriage in
contradiction to other sources.
21
.
15
before taking Holy Orders. George was the son of Charles Sumner (1790-1874),
Bishop of Winchester from 1827 until 1867and the nephew of John Bird Sumner
(1780-1862), who became Archbishop of Canterbury in 1848.27
Charles Sumner and John Bird Sumner were evangelical in religious outlook and
were noted for their administrative abilities as Churchmen.28 George Sumner’s
career was influenced by the positions held by his relatives. He was the
beneficiary of family patronage, first as the chaplain to both his uncle and father
and then in securing preferment to the living of Old Alresford near Winchester.
George’s later posts of Rural Dean, Archdeacon and Suffragan Bishop,29 are
illustrative of reforms in the administration of the Church,30 that his relatives had
been instrumental in effecting. He later achieved further advancement, through
the patronage of friend and kinsman Samuel Wilberforce, who, in turn, had
received patronage from Charles Sumner his predecessor as Bishop of
Winchester. 31
On 26th July 1848, Mary Heywood married George Sumner in a ceremony presided
over by the bridegroom’s father.32 George and Mary Sumner lived for two years at
Crawley near Winchester, where George served as curate. Following the death of
Jennie, Mrs Charles Sumner, George and Mary moved to Farnham Castle where
George acted as domestic chaplain to his father.33 Their first child Margaret Effie,
was born in 1849, their second, Louisa Mary Alice (Loulie), in 1850 and son
Heywood, later an artist and archaeologist, in 1853.34 In 1882 Louisa married the
Reverend Barrington Gore- Browne, a son of Edward Harold Browne the then
27
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 9-10.
Joyce Coombs, George and Mary Sumner Their Life and Times (Westminster: Sumner
Press, 1965), Chapters II to IV.
29
Mary Sumner, Memoir of George Henry Sumner, D.D. Bishop of Guildford: Published for
His Friends by Special Request (Winchester: Warren and Sons, 1910), 54.67.78.
30
George Henry Sumner, ed. Principles at Stake: Essays on Church Questions of the Day
(London: John Murray, 1868), 152.
31
Sumner, Memoir of George Sumner, Bishop Sumner introductory pages, Honorary Canon
of Wincheser Cathedral 1873; Coombs, George and Mary Sumner, 70-72.
32
Sumner, 'Early Life’.
33
Sumner, Memoir of George Sumner, 8-14.
34
Ibid., 22.
28
16
Bishop of Winchester. Heywood married Agnes Mary Benson the sister of his
university friend the actor Frank Benson.35
In 1851, George Sumner was given the living of Old Alresford by his father, where
he and Mary spent the next thirty five years. They moved in upper-class society
and were regular guests in local country houses.36 George and Mary involved
themselves in philanthropic and educational initiatives in the parish.37 Mary
Sumner participated in philanthropic projects in the Winchester district. She was a
founding Associate of the GFS (1875) and served as its Diocesan President in
1887.38 The GFS placed Mary Sumner in contact with the Hon. Ellen Joyce, of the
British Women’s Emigration Association (BWEA)and Charlotte Yonge, the novelist,
who from 1891 edited the MU’s Mothers in Council. Mary Sumner was also
President of the Winchester Juvenile Union of the Church of England Temperance
Society in 1886.39
Mary and George Sumner were supporters of Anglican denominational education.
George was treasurer of the Winchester Diocesan Training College for teachers
from 1862, and its secretary from 1870 to 1878.40 In 1896 Mary and George
Sumner funded All Saints voluntary aided (elementary) school in Winchester.41
In 1880, George and Mary took an extended tour to Egypt and the Holy Land,
which Mary commemorated in a published memoir, entitled ‘Our Holiday in the
East’.42 They also travelled to Algiers in 1893, where in addition to visiting
missionaries, Mary Sumner observed worship in a mosque. These experiences
affirmed Mary Sumner’s enthusiasm for Christian mission work amongst women
overseas.43
35
Heywood Sumner, 'Memorials', Edward Harold Browne appointed George as Suffragan
Bishop of Guildford.
36
Sumner, Memoir of George Sumner, 23-25.
37
Account of the Founding of the Mothers' Union and Parochial Work at Old Alresford: LPL
MU/MSS/1/2; Memoir of George Sumner, 15-22.
38
Heath-Stubbs, Friendships Highway; Being the History of the Girls' Friendly Society, 210.
39
Hampshire Chronicle, 'Church of England Temperance Society', Hampshire Chronicle, 16
Jan. 1886.
40
Sumner, Memoir of George Sumner, 31.
41
Ibid., 101-105.
42
Mary Elizabeth Sumner, Our Holiday in the East (London: Hurst & Blackett, 1881).
43
Sumner, Memoir of George Sumner, 92-99.
17
George Sumner became Archdeacon in 1885, which coincided with a move from
Old Alresford to The Close in Winchester. In 1888, he was appointed Suffragan
Bishop of Guildford. 44 The move to The Close coincided with the 1885
Portsmouth Church Congress, which is recorded as the catalyst for Mary Sumner’s
MU becoming a diocesan organisation.45 By 1896, the MU was established as a
centralised organisation and Mary Sumner served as its Central President until
1909.46
After George’s death in 1909, Mary Sumner was permitted to remain in his official
residence. She continued to serve as Winchester Diocesan MU President until
1915. In 1917, Mary Sumner visited London for the opening of The Mary Sumner
House, the new headquarters of the MU. She died in 1921, having lived to see the
organisation she founded grow to a substantial transnational membership. Her
funeral in Winchester Cathedral was attended by 4,000 mourners.47 Her grave is
behind the eastern end of the cathedral. She and George are also commemorated
by plaques on the cathedral buttresses and in Old Alresford Church. The MU
continues as a global Anglican organisation claiming four million members across
eighty three countries.48
Mary Sumner: primary sources
Mary Sumner was the author of three full length books and a short volume, To
Mothers of the Higher Classes, published in 1888. Home Life (1895) was a
collection of material from journal articles concerned with promoting the MU.49
Our Holiday in the East (1881) and George Henry Sumner D.D. Bishop of Guildford
(1910) were respectively a travel diary and a memoir; both were published for
private circulation.50 Our Holiday presents an account of an extended family tour
of the Holy Land. George Henry Sumner D.D. Bishop of Guildford, written when
44
Ibid., 53-55.
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 21-24.
46
Ibid.
47
The Times, ‘Obituary of Mary Sumner’.
48
Moyse, History of the Mothers' Union; The Mothers' Union,
[http:www.themothersunion.org acessed 28 July 2012].
49
Sumner, Home Life.
50
Our Holiday; Memoir of George Sumner.
45
18
Mary Sumner was recently widowed in 1910, eulogises her husband and recounts
his career as a clergyman. Mary Sumner is a presence in the narrative, which gives
attention to married life and the MU.
Mary Sumner was also the author of pamphlets and speeches. The thesis draws
on evidence from the journals Mothers’ in Council (MIC) dating from January
1891, which was aimed at women of the ‘higher classes’ who took leadership
roles within the organisation and The Mothers’ Union Journal (MUJ), dating from
January 1888, for members of lower social status. These journals feature articles
by Mary Sumner concerned with promoting the aims of the MU. They are
collected in the Church of England Record Centre.
The Hampshire Record Office holds the Winchester Diocesan Mothers’ Union
archive which dates from 1886 and related material including earlier sources on
the GFS, relevant to Mary Sumner and to some of her network in the local
context.51 The largest source of evidence relating to Mary Sumner is located in the
MU archive in Lambeth Palace Library. The collection comprises material retained
by the central organisation of the MU. The bulk of the material consists of
minutes of committee meetings but this thesis draws to a greater extent on the
manuscript sources, correspondence and printed materials by Mary Sumner and
others in the collection.52
The absence of Mary Sumner’s personal papers, which were destroyed on her
death in 1921, leaves a gap in the evidence. Joyce Coombs comments, ‘the attics
of the house in The Close were packed with bundles of letters, newspapers,
sermons, service papers and notices, accumulated over thirty years or more [...] it
was all consigned to the flames’.53 [This was done by Heywood Sumner, Mary
51
WDMU, HRO 145/M85, also Hampshire Chronicle various editions; Lady Laura Ridding.
An Account Written by Laura E. Ridding of Her Married Life at Winchester 1876-1884:
Selborne Papers 9M68/73/36, HRO 9M68/73/36; Sophia Wickham. c.1894-98, Wickham of
Binsted: HRO 38M49.
52
Sumner, 'Early Life', are examples from the MU Colecction which also includes Central
Council Minutes and committee proceedings; 'Founding'; Letters to Mrs Maude, 19081920: LPL MU/CO/PRES/5/4; Letters to Lady Chichester Central President of the Mothers'
Union: LPL MU/CO/PRES/5/2; Lady Horatia Erskine, A History of the Mothers' Union:LPL
MU/MSS/1/5.
53
Coombs, George and Mary Sumner, 1; Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 34,
provides a hint at what was lost in a reference that must refer to shortly before Mary
19
Sumner’s son and executor of the will.] However, some correspondence by Mary
Sumner, relating to MU matters, can be found in the Lambeth MU Archive and
there are a few letters in the Winchester Diocesan MU Collection amongst which
are three that may be considered of a personal nature. Thus the remaining
correspondence reflects Mary Sumner in her persona as ‘Foundress’ of the MU.54
Much of the remaining material was also produced to forward the aims of the
MU, or to record its development. Mary Sumner Her Life and Work and A Short
History of the Mothers’ Union, which were published in the same volume (1921)
and Fifty Years (1926), fit the latter category and valorise Mary Sumner as the
‘Foundress’ of the society.55 Early published histories of the GFS, The Girls Friendly
Society (1902, 1905) and Friendship’s Highway (1926) which pertain to Mary
Sumner in her network were produced with a similar promotional agenda.56
Evidence from Mary Sumner’s family is represented by material by her husband,
George and niece, Isobel Heywood. George Sumner’s most substantial
publications were a memoir of his father, Life of C. R Sumner D.D., Bishop of
Winchester, During a Forty Years’ Episcopate (1876) and the edited collection of
essays on Anglican doctrine, Principles at Stake (1868).57 Isabel Heywood also
contributed to the popular genre of memoir with Reminiscences, Letters and
Journals of Thomas Percival Heywood, Baronet (1899), her father, who was both
cousin and brother-in-law to Mary Sumner.58 The genealogy of the extensive
Sumner family, which recorded the many clergymen and clergy wives in the
family, was compiled in 1904 by Heywood Sumner.59
Sumner's death when they note: 'Piles of letters from Miss Yonge showing how closely
and harmoniously they worked together'.
54
For letters as a means of self projection and constructed identities mediated by the
audience being addressed, see Rebecca Earle, Epistolary Selves: Letters and Letter-Writers,
1600-1945 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 1999); Liz Stanley, The Auto/Biographical I: Theory and
Practice of Feminist Autobiography (Manchester: University Press, 1992), 211.
55
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner; Erskine, 'A History of the Mothers' Union';
Mothers' Union, Fifty Years (Westminster: The Mothers' Union, 1926).
56
Money, History of the Girls’ Friendly Society; Heath-Stubbs, Friendships Highway: Being
the History of the Girls' Friendly Society.
57
George Henry Sumner, Life of C. R. Sumner, D.D., Bishop of Winchester, During a Forty
Years' Episcopate (London, 1876); Sumner, Principles.
58
Heywood and Heywood, Reminiscences.
59
Sumner, Memorials.
20
The thesis uses the writings of women who were associated with the MU and GFS,
or who linked to Mary Sumner through religious affiliation, or locality. These
sources are predominantly in relation to the official account of the early MU, or to
Mary Sumner’s promotion of MU aims. In addition to material in ‘Mothers in
Council’, ‘The Mothers’ Union Journal’, ‘Friendly Leaves’ and the ‘GFS Associates
Journal’, material has been drawn from the novels, journalism and letters of
Charlotte Yonge and the diary, speeches and writing of Lady Laura Ridding.60 The
memoir of Louise Creighton provides a rare source of negative opinion on Mary
Sumner, the GFS and the MU,61 Evidence is also drawn from magazines, local and
national newspapers and from reports of speeches delivered at the Anglican
Church Congresses from 1885.62
The early official accounts of the MU are considered as primary sources and
treated as presenting an authorised perspective. Mary Sumner Her Life and Work
(written at the instigation of Mary Sumner’s daughter) and A Short History of the
Mothers’ Union were prepared from manuscript recollections of Mary Sumner’s
childhood and the genesis of the organisation, Account of her Early Life at Hope
End 1828-46 and Account of the Founding of the Mothers’ Union and Parochial
Work at Old Alresford,63 and from the notes of her friend and MU activist, Lady
Horatia Erskine.64
The consistency of ‘voice’ between Mary Sumner’s published materials and
correspondence raises issues concerning the interpretation of the presentation of
a public agenda. Through drawing upon material produced by, or relating to
members of Mary Sumner’s networks, the thesis seeks to redress the
incompleteness of a record that contains few sources of a private nature by giving
60
Examples include: Charlotte Mary Yonge, The Two Sides of the Shield (London:
Macmillan & Co., 1885); Charlotte Yonge, 'Conversation on the Mothers' Union', The
Monthly Packet of Evening Readings for Younger Members of the Church of England, I
Sep. 1887; Lady Laura Ridding. Home Duties and Relations of the Educated Woman; an
Address to the Wolverhampton Church Congress on Women Workers 1887: HRO Selborne
Papers 9M68/73/7; The War Chronicles Part I 1914: HRO Selborne Papers 9M68/95.
61
Louise Creighton, Memoir of a Victorian Woman: Reflections of Louise Creighton 18501936 (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 1994).
62
Mary Sumner, Paper Read at the Church Congress in Hull 1890: LPL MU/MSS/2/1/4 and
George Henry Sumner, Address at the Church Congress in Hull 1890, Mothers Union: LPL
MU/MSS.2/1/3, are examples.
63
Sumner, 'Early Life'; 'Founding’.
64
Erskine, ‘ A History of the Mother’s Union’.
21
contextual location to the material. However material (including fiction) produced
by members of Mary Sumner’s network is also regarded with the agenda of the
author in mind. Although the sources provide information relevant to a
descriptive analysis which identifies agents and activities, this thesis also uses
perspective analysis to interpret a perspectival record weighted towards material
produced for public consumption. June Purvis encapsulates the perspective
analysis approach which the thesis will bring to interrogation of evidence:
What is important is whether the text is representative of the perspectives
of the social categories to which one is assigning the author(s). Once again,
the text may well be compared with others, but this time with those
produced by other members of that social category.65
Standpoint of the author
The historiography of the categories of ‘women’s, ‘feminist’ and ‘gender’ history66
and of education demonstrates that historians are, like the subjects they choose
for enquiry, time and value bound. Bourdieu uses the concept of reflexivity which
calls for ‘conscious self-referencing’ in an attempt to reduce biases from social
origin and references, academic location (power and status) and intellectual
assumptions.67 This applies to agents and to the disciplinary structures in which
they operate and challenges practitioners to address presuppositions
systematically in the ‘unthought categories of thought which delimit the thinkable
and predetermine the thought’.68 This idea relates to history, as practised by
agents, temporally and spatially located, subject to mind set and assumptions of
value [habitus] and seeking recognition [symbolic capital]. Bourdieu’s concept of
reflexivity resonates with Sue Morgan’s call for the ‘perpetual interrogation of
dominant historical concepts and categories’.69
65
June Purvis, 'Using Primary Sources When Researching Women's History from a Feminist
Perspective ', Women's History Review 1, no. 2 (1992): 276.
66
Susan Morgan, ed. The Feminist History Reader (London: Routledge, 2006); Ruth Watts,
'Gendering the Story: Change in the History of Education', History of Education 34, no. 3
(2005): 225-241. Joyce Goodman, 'The Gendered Politics of Historical Writing in History of
Education', History of Education 41, no. 1 (2012): 9-24.
67
Bourdieu and Wacquant, An Invitation, 38.
68
Ibid., 40.
69
Sue Morgan, 'Theorising Feminist History: A Thirty Year Retrospective', Women's History
Review 18, no. 3 (2009): 339.
22
I follow Bourdieu in recognising that the act of theorising is not a detached activity
but an act of practical involvement with the subject and acknowledge my location
in respect of Mary Sumner.70 Mary Sumner’s views on religion, gender roles,
sexual morality and social stratification are at some distance to my values, as a
secular feminist, formed in the twentieth century. Yet her activism may be
interpreted as contributing towards the opening of the horizons of possibility
available to me. Her views on parenting and education resonate to some degree
with my own beliefs and experience as a teacher.71 I admire her energy and
dedication to a cause and her sense of certainty, affirmative experience of
marriage and the recognition she received is also enviable. Her writings reveal
glimpses of warmth and humour. Yet, the religious agenda and rhetoric of much
of her archive means that her inner life remains intriguingly elusive. Bourdieu’s
attitude to engagement with the study of a life trajectory encapsulates my
intention:
To try to really situate one’s mind in the place the interviewee occupies in
the social space from necessity by starting to question them from that
point, in order to take their part in it in some way [...] is not to project
oneself into others in the way that phenomenologists claim. It is to give
oneself a generic and genetic understanding of who they are, based on the
theoretical and practical command of the social conditions which produced
them.72
To this end I follow Bourdieu in being conscious of the fallacy inherent in an
unthinking assumption of objectivity and acknowledge his observation that there
is no point outside the system from which to gain a neutral disinterested
perspective.73 Yet in presenting arguments rooted in evidence I strive to achieve a
methodological approach and a theoretical perspective towards understanding
Mary Sumner as a woman of her times that is respectful to her and to the
disciplinary traditions of historical scholarship.
70
Craig J. Calhoun, Edward Li Puma and Moishe Postone, eds., Bourdieu: Critical
Perspectives (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1993), 6.
71
Mary Sumner, 'Obedience' in Home Life, 25-33. This lays out Mary Sumner's views on
consistent parenting and the importance of loving and gentle treatment as an aid to
education.
72
Michael Grenfell and David James, Bourdieu and Education: Acts of Practical Theory
(London: Falmer Press, 1998), 174.
73
Calhoun, Li Puma and Postone, Bourdieu: Critical Perspectives, 6.
23
In the following section I argue for gender as a lens for the scrutiny of Mary
Sumner. A later chapter on theoretical stance and methodological approaches
provides a framework that aims to reconcile gender with the analytical framework
that will be provided by my deployment of Bourdieu’s conceptual tools of habitus,
field and capital.
Mary Sumner and the lens of gender
This thesis is mindful of the theoretical stances of ‘women’s history’, feminism
and gender.74 These are distinct but not mutually exclusive categories, as Jane
Rendall notes.75 They represent a tradition of dynamic scholarship in the ongoing project of history as knowledge production, which as organisational and
interpretative, always involves theoretical assumptions.76 The work of scholars of
different theoretical perspectives has informed awareness of key themes and
issues in the period in which Mary Sumner was located but work with a focus on
gender has been most influential to the stance taken in the thesis.77
Mary Sumner was recognised in her life time, valorised by her organisation and
has been ‘written into’ an institutional history of the Anglican Church.78 She does
not present an obvious case for a reinstatement of an overlooked narrative. Nor,
as a woman from a dominant class, who exercised patronage over others, can
she be categorised exclusively as an oppressed victim of her biological sex.79 Joan
74
Morgan, The Feminist History Reader; Goodman, 'The Gendered Politics of Historical
Writing in History of Education’.
75
Jane Rendall, 'Uneven Developments: Women’s History, Feminist History and Gender
History in Great Britain', in Writing Women’s History: International Perspectives, ed. Karen
R. Offen, Ruth Roach Pierson and Jane Rendall (London: Macmillan, 1991).
76
Morgan, The Feminist History Reader, 3.
77
Joan W. Scott, 'Gender: A Useful Category of Historical Analysis', American Historical
Review 91, no. 5 (1986): 1053-1075; Joan Wallach Scott, 'Gender: Still a Useful Category
of Analysis?' Diogenes (2010), [http://dio.sagepub.com/content/57/1/7.refs.html,
accessed 20 Oct. 2010]; Sue Morgan and Jacqueline de Vries, Women, Gender and
Religious Cultures in Britain, 1800-1940, eds (London: Routledge, 2010); Watts, Gender,
Power and the Unitarians in England, 1760-1860.
78
Moyse, History of the Mothers' Union.
79
Morgan, The Feminist History Reader, 3. I interpret Mary Sumner’s social status as upper
middle class and deploy the usage upper/middle class to refer to the diverse positions
amongst the social milieu within which Mary Sumner was located and to which she
claimed allegiance. See David Cannadine, Class in Britain (New Haven; London: Yale
University Press, 1998).
24
Scott’s claim, that the category of ‘woman’ is insufficiently nuanced to allow
exploration of the complexity of social causation and the diversity of situations
experienced by different women, is applicable to Mary Sumner.80 Drawing on
Joan Scott, Joyce Goodman notes that gender, ‘draws on work dealing with
women, but refers to socially constructed notions of femininity and masculinity,
the gendering of concepts, institutions and social orders and new forms of
association.81 It is not a substitution of woman as a separate category, for gender
acknowledges that women’s socio-sexual identities are not constructed in
isolation in a separate sphere.82
Mary Sumner’s identity and her activism were framed within gendered sociocultural structures which prioritised masculine power and authority. The
Established Church was patriarchal in excluding women from positions of power
and in asserting biblical authority to legitimise their subordinate position.83
Religion was significant in framing female identities and was drawn on to
legitimise activism in philanthropy and education.84 Similar exclusions (despite
some amendments) were evident in the civil, legal and financial status accorded
to women throughout much of Mary Sumner’s lifetime. Again, despite an
increase in educational provision over the period (1850-1921), access to
education and curricula was also mediated by belonging to the category of
80
Joan Wallach Scott, Gender and the Politics of History (New York: Columbia University
Press, 1999).
81
Goodman, 'The Gendered Politics of Historical Writing in History of Education', 11.
82
Linda Kerber, 'Separate Spheres, Female Worlds, Woman’s Place; the Rhetoric of
Womens’ History', Journal of American History 75, no. 1 (1988): 9-39; Amanda Vickery,
''Golden Age to Separate Spheres’: a Review of the Categories and Chronology of English
Women’s History', in Gender and History in Western Europe, ed. Robert Shoemaker and
Mary Vincent (London: Addison- Wesley Longman, 1998); Morgan, 'Theorising Feminist
History: A Thirty Year Retrospective’.
83
Sean Gill, Women and the Church of England: From the Eighteenth Century to the Present
(London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 1994), 11-38, 76-89.
84
Frank Prochaska, The Angel out of the House: Philanthropy and Gender in NineteenthCentury England (Charlottesville and London: University of Virginia Press, 2002); Morgan
and de Vries, Women, Gender and Religious Cultures in Britain, 1800-1940; Eileen Janes
Yeo, 'Some Paradoxes of Empowerment', in Radical Femininity: Womens' Self
Representation in the Public Sphere, ed. Eileen Janes Yeo (Manchester: Manchester
University Press, 1998).
25
woman.85 For Ruth Watts, gender is a relevant factor in what is counted as
knowledge and who should possess it.86
This thesis acknowledges that patriarchy exists in various forms and that women
collectively are likely to be disempowered relative to men within their group.87
However, it follows Sheila Rowbotham’s rejection of patriarchy as ‘a single
determining cause of women’s subordination’.88 This singular theoretical
categorisation fails to account for interacting systems of domination such as class,
‘race’, religion or education. ‘Nor [as Rowbotham claims] does it carry any notion
of how women might act to transform their situation’.89 Sarah Jane Aiston’s
observation that the negotiation of social and cultural circumstances ‘has
[sometimes] involved internalizing or performing to received stereotypes’, is
applied to consideration of Mary Sumner.90
Morgan suggests that gender research does not discount patriarchy or male
privilege because it addresses the signification of unequal relationships of
power.91 According to Morgan: ‘Whereas androcentric methodology has
disguised the constituted nature of masculinity by defining it as normative,
gender research reveals that men are equally conditioned by their relationships
with women and other males.’92 Gender research seeks to interrogate these
positions.93
85
Gill, Women and the Church of England, 112-130; Joan Burstyn, Victorian Education and
the Ideal of Womanhood (London: Croom Helm, 1980).
86
Watts, 'Gendering the Story: Change in the History of Education'; See also Goodman,
'The Gendered Politics of Historical Writing in History of Education', Goodman claims
gender has shaped the discipline of the history of education.
87
Linda McDowell, Gender, Identity and Place: Understanding Feminist Geographies
(London: Polity Press, 1999), 15-25.
88
Sheila Rowbotham, 'The Trouble with Patriarchy', in The Feminist History Reader, ed. Sue
Morgan (London: New York: Routledge, 2007), 52.
89
Ibid., 53.
90
Sarah Jane Aiston, 'Women, Education and Agency, 1600-2000: an Historical
Perspective', in Women, Education and Agency, ed. Jean Spence, Sarah Jane Aiston and
Maureen Meikle (London and New York: Routledge, 2010), 6.
91
Morgan, The Feminist History Reader, 12.
92
Morgan, A Passion for Purity, 11; John Tosh, A Man's Place: Masculinity and the MiddleClass Home in Victorian England (New Haven, [Conn.] and London: Yale University Press,
2007).
93
Morgan, The Feminist History Reader, 11.
26
Scott and Morgan consider gender a tool in an analysis of experience that looks
beyond categorisations of oppression to consider the negotiation, replication
and transference of power within the fluidities of public and private space.94
Mary Sumner’s activism is not conceived of in the context of a single sex, nor is it
divorced from class and religion. This thesis adopts the stance that although her
agency was mediated through her complicity with, and authorisation from, male
dominated power structures, her educational mission to reform national life by
promoting religiously approved behaviour, articulated notions of manliness,
advocated improvement in the conduct of men as well as women and engaged
with public issues. The thesis will draw on evidence relating to Mary Sumner’s
experience of family life and to her writings, which include addresses to
husbands and fathers, to illuminate her understanding of masculinity and what
she saw as the appropriate relations (and conduct) between men and women.
This thesis will use the lens of gender to explore the making of meaning around
sexual difference. Gender is understood as being socially and culturally
constructed, negotiable and positional. Gender also permits acknowledgement of
‘race’, class, affluence, education and religion as mediating factors in access to
opportunity or exclusion from power.95 Gender embedded in these mediating
factors will be used to examine the construction of the identity of agents and the
negotiation of power within structures.96 However, as Scott observes, the
recognition of gender as a category does not explain the negotiation or
transformation of power and relationships.97 So ‘an insight into the structures of
domination’ will be sought in order to illuminate the position of Mary Sumner.98
The thesis will consider gender as a mediating factor within an examination of the
interplay of agents and structures, adopting the theoretical position and
conceptual tools of Bourdieu in analysing the negotiation or transformation of
relationships in relation to power.
94
Morgan, Women, Religion and Feminism in Britain, 1750-1900 (Basingstoke: Palgrave
Macmillan, 2002), 11.
95
Joan Scott, Feminism and History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996), 3.
96
Scott, 'Gender: Still a Useful Category of Analysis?’.
97
Scott, Gender and the Politics of History.
98
John Tosh, Manliness and Masculinities in Nineteenth-Century Britain: Essays on Gender,
Family and Empire (Harlow: Pearson Longman, 2005), 7.
27
Chapter 1 - Review of Literature
Introduction
This chapter argues that existing material relating to Mary Sumner gives room for
a further analysis of her location in networks in relation to the formation of her
identity and negotiation of agency;1 an analysis which emphasises gender as a
mediator of opportunity, considers religion as a social construct and seeks to
locate her as a popular educator.2 Through an analysis of existing material the
chapter will also show that the life and activism of Mary Sumner has not been
considered from a perspective that accounts for the relational interplay of agents
and structures in constructions of authority and transactions of power. The
following chapter will explore ways in which the ideas of Bourdieu inform the
theoretical stance and methodological approach of the thesis.
This chapter will analyse existing works concerned with Mary Sumner. It will
discuss the utility of locating an individual life in the context of other agents and
references to members of Mary Sumner’s kinship and social networks will be
noted. Mary Sumner will be related to literature dealing with religion as
informative of the wider context which framed her views and activism. Material
on the status of women in the (Anglican) Church and themes of spiritual
womanhood and motherhood will be considered. Philanthropy will be discussed
with reference to identity and agency. The idea of mission and motherhood in the
imperial context in relation to women’s identities will also be noted. The
implications of the religious construction of women’s identities will be considered
in relation to education and educational activism. The chapter will end by
identifying ways in which this thesis builds on existing work relating to Mary
Sumner.
1
Gunter, Leaders and Leadership in Education, 5. For Gunter identity is a dynamic
‘socialised and socialising process’ that concerns positioning of the self; Aiston, 'Women,
Education and Agency, 1600-2000 an Historical Perspective', 1-8.
2
Wardle, English Popular Education; Harold Silver, 'Knowing and Not Knowing in the
History of Education', History of Education 21, no. 1 (1992): 97-108. I follow Wardle in
considering education to include socialisation beyond institutional provision and Silver in
seeing religion as a mediator in educational initiatives.
29
Mary Sumner: existing literature
There is no scholarly biography exclusively devoted to Mary Sumner. Cordelia
Moyse’s A History of the Mothers Union: Women, Anglicanism and Globalisation
1876-2008, (2009), is the only scholarly work to date exclusively devoted to the
history of the MU. Prior to this major work the MU published Moyse’s pamphlet,
The Mothers’ Union 1876-2001: 125 Years of Caring for the Family.3 The 2009
work is authoritative on the development of the organisation and in its reference
to official archival sources, which have, since its publication become available in
the Lambeth Palace Library MU Archive. Moyse recognises Mary Sumner as a
dominant presence in the early development of the organisation and
acknowledges her social milieu and clerical connections.4 The work refers to
education with reference to a corporate response to the Education Acts of 1870,
1902 and 1944. However, Moyse’s interest is in the development of the whole
organisation and she takes a focus on the spiritual empowerment of MU members
worldwide and their achievement of a space within the Anglican Church.
This thesis takes a different approach by putting Mary Sumner at the centre and
exploring further the contextual circumstances of kinship, class and education
that contributed to her religiously legitimised gendered identity and views. It also
emphasises Mary Sumner as an educator and explores her views on childhood,
childrearing and the implications of these for the education of mothers and for
society.5
The earliest account of Mary Sumner and the MU, Mary Sumner Her Life and
Work, was published in 1921 in conjunction with A Short History of the Mothers’
Union.6 Canon John Vaughn’s pamphlet, A Short Memoir of Mary Sumner, Founder
of the Mothers' Union, appeared the same year.7 Five years later, Fifty Years,
which was largely similar to the previous Short History of the Mothers’ Union, was
published, without authorial attribution, by the MU to celebrate the half
3
The Mothers' Union, 1876-2001: 125 Years Caring for the Family (London: MU, 2001).
History of the Mothers' Union, 28, 29,32.
5
Ibid., 70, 139, 187.
6
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner.
7
John Vaughan and Mary Elizabeth Sumner, A Short Memoir of Mary Sumner, Founder of
the Mothers' Union [with Portrait.] (Winchester: Warren & Son, 1921).
4
30
centenary of the organisation.8 A second edition of Mary Sumner Her Life and
Work was published in 1928 to mark the centenary of Mary Sumner’s birth. These
early publications present officially authorised, valorous accounts of Mary Sumner
and the MU and as noted in the introduction, are considered as primary sources.
Later publications which reference Mary Sumner were also written by MU
activists. In 1958, Violet Lancaster produced A Short History of the Mothers Union,
advocating the aims of the organisation and aimed at MU officials.9 The centenary
of the MU in 1976 and the publication of New Dimensions, a re-evaluation of MU
organisational objectives in response to perceived social pressure on family life,10
provided the catalyst for Olive Parker’s ‘For the Family's Sake: a History of the
Mothers' Union, 1876-1976.11 Parker provides a synthesis of the previous histories
of the organisation, articulated for an audience of contemporary MU members.
The chapter headings and cover emphasise the worldwide presence of the
organisation. However, Parker’s observation that Mary Sumner was a woman of
her time, intent on preserving the values of her class remains pertinent.12 A
further short account of the MU, Mission Unlimited; the Story of the Mothers’
Union by Florence Hill was published in 1988.13
Joyce Coombs, a former London Diocesan President of the MU, gives a
sympathetic narrative of Mary Sumner and her husband in George and Mary
Sumner Their Life and Times.14 This locates the careers, religious views and family
life of George’s relatives, his uncle John Bird Sumner, Archbishop of Canterbury
and father, Charles Sumner, the Bishop of Winchester, in a historical context.
Coombs includes Bishop Samuel Wilberforce, the distant kinsman of the Sumner
family and identifies the links of patronage between them. Coombs does not
attribute her sources, some of which are anecdotes from anonymous
8
MU, Fifty Years.
Violet Lancaster, A Short History of the Mothers' Union (London: MU, 1958).
10
Bishop of Willesden, New Dimensions: The Report of the Bishop of Willesden's
Commission on the Objects and Policy of the Mothers' Union (London: S.P.C.K., 1972).
11
Olive Parker, For the Family's Sake: A History of the Mothers' Union, 1876-1976
(Folkestone: Bailey and Swinfen, 1975).
12
Parker, For the Family's Sake, 21.
13
Florence Hill, Mission Unlimited (MU, 1988); Moyse, History of the Mothers' Union.
14
Coombs, George and Mary Sumner.
9
31
eyewitnesses.15 Some references to Mary Sumner and the MU may be traced to
the materials in the Lambeth Palace MU archive, previous accounts of the MU and
writing by Mary Sumner, including Our Holiday in the East and George Henry
Sumner D.D. Bishop of Guildford, the memoir of her husband.16
The significance of Mary Summer’s views in informing the aims and practice of the
MU is noted by both Sean Gill and Brian Heeney in their perspectives on women
in the Church of England.17 Brian Harrison has referred to Mary Sumner as a
significant participant in the leadership of the Anglican Girls’ Friendly Society
(GFS) (from 1875), which in structure and religious aims, provided both inspiration
and an organisational model for the MU.18 In Owen Chadwick’s extensive
Victorian Church, attention to Mary Sumner and the MU is confined to two pages
and his assertion that Mary Sumner was ‘wholly without patronage’ invites
interrogation.19
Mary Sumner is given attention in two MA theses which engage with themes
examined in this thesis. Gary Wilson’s ‘To What Extent was Mary Sumner’s
Mothers’ Union (1876-1909) Anti-Feminist’, engages with Mary Sumner’s
conservative interpretation of female roles and notes the social stratification
manifest in the MU despite its claims to be socially inclusive.20 Barbara Miller’s
‘Moral Purity and the Servant Problem: The Interaction of Winchester Ladies and
Winchester Women Circa 1884-1910’, takes the investigation of class as its
perspective and focuses on the social status and religious identities of local
Anglican women philanthropists, including Mary Sumner.21
15
Ibid., 88. Coombs notes the contribution of Mrs Carlyon Evans, the daughter of Mary
Sumner's daughter Louisa Gore Browne.
16
Our Holiday; Memoir of George Sumner.
17
Brian Heeney, The Women's Movement in the Church of England, 1850-1930 (Oxford:
Clarendon, 1988); Gill, Women and the Church of England.
18
Brian Harrison, 'For Church Queen and Family: the Girls’ Friendly Society 1874-1920',
Past and Present 61(1973): 107-138.
19
Owen Chadwick, The Victorian Church Part 2, 1860-1901 (London: A. and C. Black, 1972),
192-193.
20
Gary Wilson, 'To What Extent Was Mary Sumner’s Mothers’ Union (1876-1909) AntiFeminist?' (MA thesis Cheltenham and Gloucester College of Higher Education, 1992).
21
Barbara Miller, 'Moral Purity and the Servant Problem: the Interaction of Winchester
Ladies and Winchester Women Circa 1884-1910' (MA thesis King Alfred’s College
University of Southampton 2001).
32
Mary Sumner is the subject of two journal articles relevant to the thesis enquiry
which focus on her as an educator. ‘Mary Sumner and Maternal Authority: From
the Rectory to the Homes of the Nation’ engages with the sources of authority she
drew upon to legitimise her message. ‘A ‘Mission to Civilise’: The Popular
Educational Vision of the Anglican Mothers’ Union and Girls’ Friendly Society
1886-1926’, considers how the aims of the societies were informed and the
strategies that were drawn upon to put them into practice.22
The significance of networks
Mary Sumner can be linked with numbers of significant individuals through
kinship, social milieu or affiliation to interest groups.23 This thesis locates Mary
Sumner within her networks in terms of her identity and views networks as
mediating of her horizons of possibility and as instrumental in forwarding her
aims. It follows Barbara Caine in looking at individuals in the context of their
familial and social networks to illuminate the intersecting boundaries of private
lives and public action. Caine maintains a collective approach is useful for dealing
with gender and religion as cultural constructions, mediated by personal
associations, as informative of identities, opportunities and sense of purpose. For
Caine, this avoids the potential distortion of a focus on an individual exceptional
subject detached from context and contributes to an understanding of the
circumstances applicable to the collective experience of women.24 Eileen Janes
Yeo sees women’s friendship and kinship networks as significant in the
establishment and organisation of philanthropic projects.25 Jane Martin and Joyce
Goodman also demonstrate the value of situating women within their personal
22
Sue Anderson-Faithful, 'Mary Sumner and Maternal Authority: From the Drawing Room
to the Homes of the Nation', History of Education Researcher 89(2012 ): 18-26; Susan
Anderson-Faithful, 'A 'Mission to Civilise’: The Popular Educational Vision of the Anglican
Mothers’ Union and Girls' Friendly Society 1886-1926' [Uma ‘Missão para Civilizar’: a Visão
de Educação Popular do Sindicato de Mães Anglicanas e da Sociedade de Amigas das
Moças (1886-1926).] Revista Brasileira de História da Educação 11, no. 1 [28] (2012 ): 1543.
23
Moyse, History of the Mothers' Union, 29.
24
Barbara Caine, 'Feminist Biography and Feminist History’, Women's History Review 3, no.
2 (1992): 247-260.
25
Eileen Janes Yeo, ‘The Creation of 'Motherhood' and Women's Responses in Britain and
France 1750-1914’, Women's History Review 8, no. 1 (1999): 201-221.
33
and organisational networks as a means to explore transactions of power in the
context of women and education.26
Peter Cunningham, writing in the context of progressive educational reformers,
traces the emergence of Froebelian organization from the collaboration of a
number of powerful women.27 He asserts the significance of agents occupying
positions of power and having relationships to structures invested with authority,
a notion that the thesis applies to Mary Sumner who secured recognition for the
MU, nationally and transnationally, from the Anglican Church.28 Cunningham
suggests prosopography as a tool for examining individuals within contextual
networks as representative of a common category or characteristics common to
the group. He claims that prosopography is useful in assembling ‘the experiences,
the attitudes and the manner of their subsequent recollection and reconstruction
for a significant feature of networks is that they act to produce the non-material
resource of knowledge’.29 The thesis draws on this approach to analyse Mary
Sumner’s identity and agency and to see her as exemplifying group characteristics
or as potentially innovative.30
Characteristics of what Margaret Keck and Kathryn Sikkink‘s categorise as
‘advocacy networks’ include a belief that individuals with common goals can make
a difference. Characteristics also include the use of information and the
employment by non-governmental actors of political strategies.31 Keck and Sikkink
identify campaigning as an attribute of advocacy networks: ‘They seek to
maximize their influence or leverage over the target of their actions.’32 In
asserting religious values, drawing support from like minded contacts and
producing informative literature, Mary Sumner exhibits characteristics that can be
26
Jane Martin and Joyce Goodman, Women and Education 1800-1980 (London: Palgrave
Macmillan, 2004):7-26.
27
Peter Cunningham, ‘Innovators, Networks and Structures: Towards a Prosopography of
Progressivism', History of Education 30, no. 5 (2001): 441.
28
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 24, 30.
29
Cunningham, ‘Innovators, Networks and Structures', 451.
30
The following chapter will argue that this is compatible with the analysis which deploys
Bourdieu’s conceptual tools of habitus (informative circumstances), field (spheres of
action) and capital (values and valued attributes and knowledge).
31
Margaret Keck and Kathryn A. Sikkink, Advocacy Networks in International Politics,
Activists Beyond Borders (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1998), 2-3.
32
Ibid., 3.
34
located within this analysis.33 The thesis considers Mary Sumner in relation to
Keck and Sikkink’s notion that:
Network actors bring new norms ideas and discourses... In so doing they
contribute to changing perceptions that both state and societal actors may
have of their identities, interests and preferences, to transforming their
discursive positions and ultimately to changing procedure, policies and
behaviour.34
Eckhardt Fuchs also sees networks as communicative structures which link
horizontally between individuals, groups or corporate actors with similar
interests. He suggests that networks determine social relations and generate
economic and social power.35 Fuchs identifies ‘exchange theory’, which assumes
that organisations establish voluntary relations for the transfer of desired
resources, as in the case of Keck and Sikkink’s category of advocacy network and
the contrasting ‘power dependency theory’ which asserts that relations are based
on competition for advantage and thus involve conflict and power.36 For Fuchs, a
key purpose of the study of networks is to illuminate the interaction between
individuals and structures and the unofficial social interactions which consist of
less well documented or quantifiable data. He uses the term social capital to
distinguish the characteristics of networks as sustaining to individuals and as
authorising values.37 The thesis applies these notions to examine Mary Sumner’s
negotiation of agency and claims to authority in relation to the Anglican Church
and in a gendered and socially stratified social context.
The notion of networks as producers of knowledge has been addressed in the
context of education by Ruth Watts.38 Such knowledge can be formal, as in
publications, or through informal means such as correspondence. Mary Sumner
was both a copious letter writer and producer of published material 39 and made
33
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 27-34.
Keck and Sikkink, Advocacy Networks, 2.
35
Eckhardt Fuchs, ‘Networks and the History of Education’, Paedagogica Historica 42, no. 2
(2007): 185.
36
Ibid.; Keck and Sikkink, Advocacy Networks, 8-10.
37
The following chapter will define this term as understood by Bourdieu and in relation to
the analysis used by the thesis.
38
Ruth Watts, ‘Some Radical Educational Networks of the Late Eighteenth Century and
Their Influence’, History of Education 27, no. 2 (1998): 1-14.
39
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 27.
34
35
use of her contacts transnationally and in imperial colonies.40 Stephanie Spencer
identifies the extensive use of correspondence made by Charlotte Mason (18421923) (who influenced Mary Sumner) as essential to the success of her ‘Parents’
National Educational Union’.41 Similarly, Tanya Fitzgerald shows how women in
the colonial context networking through the exchange of letters, used these
accounts to give authority to their experiences.42 These accounts point to analysis
of Mary Sumner’s use of correspondence to disseminate her views.
For Joyce Goodman, the spatial dimension of the transnational transfer of ideas is
of key interest.43 The category of transnational, understood as extending or
operating across national boundaries, is deployed in the thesis to accommodate
discussion of Mary Sumner’s engagement with, and communication across,
diverse ‘overseas’ spaces which extended beyond British colonial rule. Catherine
Hall and Sonia Rose follow the theme of networks as producers of knowledge by
noting the impact of empire as imagined; constructed and embedded in identity
in the metropole. They identify the inclusion of those ‘at home’ in the missionary
project through intersecting with networks on the periphery and locate various
media in this process.44 Clare Midgley’s identification of the significance of
international networks amongst women motivated by religion is affirmed by
Moyse’s claim that MU growth overseas drew on the involvement of interested
40
Clare Midgley, ‘Women, Religion and Reform’, in Women, Gender and Religious Cultures
in Britain, 1800-1940, ed. Sue Morgan and Jacqueline de Vries (London: Routledge, 2010);
Moyse, History of the Mothers' Union, 79.
41
Stephanie Spencer, ‘‘Knowledge as the Necessary Food of the Mind': Charlotte Mason’s
Philosophy of Education’, in Women, Education and Agency, 1600-2000, ed. Spence,
Aiston and Meikle (London and New York: Routledge, 2010). Spencer also notes the
spread of Mason's ideas across the empire amongst women trying to home school their
children.
42
Tanya Fitzgerald, ‘Cartographies of Friendship: Mapping Missionary Women’s
Educational Networks in Aotearoa/New Zealand, 1823-40', History of Education 32, no. 5
(2003): 513-527; ‘Archives of Memory and Memories of Archive: CMS Women’s Letters
and Diaries, 1823-35', History of Education 34, no. 6 (2005): 657-674. See also Rebecca
Earle, Epistolary Selves: Letters and Letter-Writers, 1600-1945 (Aldershot: Ashgate, 1999);
Liz Stanley, The Auto/Biographical I: Theory and Practice of Feminist Autobiography
(Manchester University Press, 1992), 211.
43
Joyce Goodman, ‘Social Change and Secondary Schooling for Girls in the ‘Long 1920s’:
European Engagements’, History of Education 36, no. 4-5 (2007): 497-513; ‘Working for
Change across International Borders: The Association of Headmistresses and Education for
International Citizenship', Paedagogica Historica 43, no. 1 (2007): 165-180.
44
Catherine Hall and Sonia O. Rose, eds., At Home with the Empire Metropolitan Culture
and the Imperial World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006).
36
women in various locations.45 The thesis analyses the role of Mary Sumner in this
process and examines her views as mediated by religion in relation to ‘women’s
mission’, ‘race’ and empire.
Mary Sumner’s network: bishops; bishops’ wives;
Anglican activists
Members of Mary Sumner’s networks exhibit shared interests in religion,
philanthropy and mission, which in seeking to influence popular behaviour may be
perceived as educational.46 Members of her networks also have class affiliation
and frequently clerical milieu and geographical location as common attributes.
Mary Sumner and numbers of individuals closely associated with her are
recognised in the Dictionary of National Biography (DNB). Amongst other male
relatives, the DNB features her father Thomas Heywood,47 her father-in-law
Bishop Charles Sumner 48 and her son Heywood Sumner (1853-1940).49 The DNB
also has entries for Samuel Wilberforce (1805-1873),50 his son Ernest (18401907),51 the temperance enthusiast and husband of Emily Wilberforce (MU
Central President from 1916-20) and Edward Harold Browne (1811-1891).52
Samuel Wilberforce, as representative of the energy and organisational reform
characteristic of bishops following the stimulus of evangelical revival, has received
45
Moyse, History of the Mothers' Union, 78.
Popular education as understood in the thesis will be explored later in the chapter.
47
Sutton and Crosby, ‘Thomas Heywood (1797–1866)'.
48
W. P. Courtney and W. R. Ward, ‘Sumner, Charles Richard (1790–1874)', Oxford
Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004),
[http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/26784, accessed 20 July 2012]
49
Jane Barbour, ‘Sumner, (George) Heywood Maunoir (1853–1940)', Oxford Dictionary of
National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004).
[http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/articale/38033, accessed 26 Nov. 2012]. Mary
Sumner's uncles, nephew and grandson have entries as does George Sumner's uncle John
Bird Sumner.
50
Arthur Burns, ‘Wilberforce, Samuel (1805–1873)’, Oxford Dictionary of National
Biography (Oxford University Press, 2009).
[http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/29385, accessed 26 Nov. 2012].
51
George Herring, ‘Wilberforce, Ernest Roland (1840–1907)', Oxford Dictionary of National
Biography (Oxford University Press, 2006).
[http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/36892, accessed 26 Nov. 2012].
52
J. R. Garrard, ‘Browne, Edward Harold, (1811–1891)', Oxford Dictionary of National
Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).
[http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/3672, accessed 7 Aug. 2012].
46
37
much attention.53 Wilberforce was also instrumental in the genesis of the GFS.54
Ernest Wilberforce, the Bishop of Newcastle (1882) and Chichester (1895) is
similarly acknowledged in relation to the MU.55 Bishop Edward Harold Browne
(Winchester 1873-1891) a patron of George Sumner is noted by Knight for his
promotion of ‘women’s work ‘and Janet Grierson discusses his innovative
appointment of a stipendiary deaconess.56 His wife Elizabeth was active in the
founding of the GFS and the MU, and it was during his episcopate that the MU
was adopted as a diocesan organisation.57
The women that the thesis will demonstrate were linked with Mary Sumner
through philanthropic Anglican activism, noted in the following paragraphs, also
have references in the DNB. Mary Townsend (1841-1918),58 the founder of the
GFS, is included, as is another Winchester resident, the Hon. Ellen Joyce (18321924),59 (like Mary Sumner a GFS Associate).60 Brian Harrison’s analysis of the GFS
draws attention to the roles of both Charlotte Yonge and Mary Sumner in the
organisation and identifies its similarities to the MU in religious aims, class
composition and attitudes to society.61 Ellen Joyce has received attention from
53
David Newsome, The Parting of Friends: A Study of the Wilberforces and Henry Manning
(London: Murray, 1966), Newsome deals with the conversions to Roman Catholicsm of
Wilberforce's friends and kinsmen; Chadwick, The Victorian Church Part 2, 1860-1901,
contains numerous references to Wilberforce; Arthur Rawson Ashwell and Reginald
Garton Wilberforce, Life of the Right Reverend Samuel Wilberforce, D.D: Lord Bishop of
Oxford and Afterwards of Winchester, with Selections from His Diaries and
Correspondence (London: John Murray, 1880); R. K. Pugh, The Letter Books of Samuel
Wilberforce, 1843-1868 (Oxford: Oxford Record Society, 1969).
54
Money, History of the Girls’ Friendly Society, 4.
55
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 22-24.
56
Frances Knight, The Nineteenth Century Church and English Society (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1995), 197; Janet Grierson, The Deaconess (London: CIO,
1981), 24; Pugh, The Letter Books of Samuel Wilberforce, 1843-1868, gives an insight into
Wilberforce's connection with the Sumners.
57
Money, History of the Girls’ Friendly Society 7; MU, Fifty Years, 7; Porter, Woodward and
Erskine, Mary Sumner, 30.
58
G. M. 'Townsend, Mary Elizabeth (1841–1918)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004). [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/56691,
accessed 14 July 2011].
59
Julia Bush, ‘Joyce, Ellen (1832–1924).’ Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford
University Press, 2004). [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/74348, accessed 26
Nov. 2012].
60
The BWEA (1884) developed from the GFS Emigration Department, see Edwardian
Ladies and Imperial Power (London: Leicester University Press, 2000).
61
Harrison, ‘ For Church Queen and Family'.
38
Lisa Chilton, Cecile Swaisland and Julia Bush62 as a pioneer of female emigration
and for her advocacy of the role of Christian women in the development of
empire: themes that will receive attention later in this chapter and in Chapter 4,
‘Mary Sumner and Mission’.
Suffragist Lady Laura Ridding (1849-1939) was the co-founder, with Louise
Creighton (1850-1936) and Emily Janes (1846-1928), of the National Union of
Women Workers (NUWW), an association which aimed to coordinate the work of
philanthropic societies.63 She receives attention for her position in the NUWW
from Serena Kelly,64 and Moyse notes her role in the MU and in its affiliation to
the NUWW.65 Laura Ridding’s enthusiasm for empire and her location in familial
and women’s pro-imperial networks is documented by Bush, who also draws
attention to the diversity of positions held on suffrage and politics by imperialist
women.66 An example is provided by Louise Creighton, a friend of Laura Ridding
and her co-worker in the NUWW, who was initially anti suffrage.67 However as a
writer, moral reformer, advocate of empire and wife of a bishop she has much in
common with her friend. She was also involved in the GFS and MU, but James
Thane Covert discusses her ambivalent attitudes to these organisations and to
Mary Sumner.68
62
Lisa Chilton, Agents of Empire: British Female Migration to Canada and Australia, 1860s1930 (Toronto; Buffalo: University of Toronto Press, 2007); Cecillie Swaisland, Servants
and Gentlewomen to the Golden Land: The Emigration of Single Women from Britain to
Southern Africa, 1820-1939 (Oxford: Berg, 1993); Julia Bush, ‘The Right Sort of Woman':
Female Emigrators and Emigration to the British Empire, 1890-1910 ‘, Women's History
Review 3, no. 3 (1994): 385-409; ‘Edwardian Ladies and the ‘Race‘ Dimensions of British
Imperialism’, Women's Studies International Forum 21, no. 3 May-June (1998): 277-289.
63
Serena Kelly, ‘Ridding, Lady Laura Elizabeth (1849–1939)', Oxford Dictionary of National
Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).
[http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/50713, accessed 12 Aug. 2011]; James Thayne
Covert, ‘Creighton, Louise Hume (1850–1936)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004). [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/38640,
accessed 9 Aug. 2012]; Serena Kelly, ‘Janes, Emily (1846–1928)', Oxford Dictionary of
National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004). [
http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/50710, accessed 12 Aug. 2011].
64
Serena Kelly, ‘A Sisterhood of Service: The Records and Early History of the National
Union of Women Workers’, Journal of the Society of Archivists 14, no. 2 (1993): 167-174.
65
Moyse, History of the Mothers' Union, 34, 68, 120.
66
Bush, Edwardian Ladies, 39, 78-79, 162, 113-116, 176-177.
67
Moyse, History of the Mothers' Union, 65.
68
Creighton and Ridding were friends, married respectively to Mandel Creighton, Bishop of
Peterborough and London and George Ridding, Headmaster of Winchester College and
Bishop of Southwell. Creighton was also a friend of Mary Ward and supported her antisuffrage petition in The Nineteenth Century but in 1906 she publicly asserted her change
39
Charlotte Yonge’s religious vision of subordinate domesticated womanhood and
her significance to the MU is noted by Heeney, Gill and Moyse.69 Since her
‘uneventful life’ was recorded in Georgina Battiscombe’s 1943 biography,
Charlotte Yonge has undergone a revival which mirrors the recognition of religion
as a significant factor in women’s lives.70 Barbara Dennis scrutinises Charlotte
Yonge’s novels for their presentation of religious belief,71 and Susan Walton
engages with constructions of gendered identity in her analysis of Charlotte
Yonge’s notions of manliness.72 Catherine Vaughn-Pow considers the theme of
emigration.73 Walton, Kristine Moruzi, Teresa Huffman Traver and Susan E. Colón,
in a dedicated edition of the journal Women’s Writing, consider aspects of
Charlotte Yonge as a popular religious educator and as an enthusiast for
missionary work.74 Talia Schaffer’s ‘Taming the Tropics: Charlotte Yonge takes on
Melanesia’, also discusses the motivation for, and commitment to, mission, which
was manifest in Yonge’s funding of the missionary ship the Southern Cross.75
These works are consistent in interpreting religion as informative of gendered
identities and as a mandate for imperialism and transnational contact as a
civilizing mission: notions that the thesis analyses in relation to Mary Sumner,
Charlotte Yonge’s co-worker in the GFS and MU. The thesis also explores
production of mission literature in terms of the educational dissemination of ideas
through MU publications to which Charlotte Yonge was a significant contributor.
of view. Covert, ‘Creighton, Louise Hume (1850–1936)'; James Thane Covert, A Victorian
Marriage: Mandell and Louise Creighton (London: Hambledon, 2000); Creighton, Memoir
of a Victorian Woman.
69
Heeney, The Women's Movement in the Church of England, 7-9; Gill, Women and the
Church of England, 80; Moyse, History of the Mothers' Union, 27, 39.
70
Morgan, Women, Religion and Feminism, 1-4.
71
Barbara Dennis, Charlotte Yonge (1823-1901): Novelist of the Oxford Movement: A
Literature of Victorian Culture and Society (Lewiston: Mellen, 1992).
72
Susan Walton, Imagining Soldiers and Fathers in the Mid-Victorian Era: Charlotte Yonge's
Models of Manliness (Farnham and Burlington: Ashgate, 2010).
73
Catherine J. Vaughan-Pow, ‘A One-Way Ticket? Emigration and the Colonies in the Works
of Charlotte M. Yonge’, in Imperial Objects: Victorian Women’s Emigration and the
Unauthorized Imperial Experience, ed. Rita Krandidis (New York: Twayne, 1998).
74
Susan Walton, ‘Charlotte Yonge: Marketing the Missionary Story’, Women’s Writing 17,
no. 2 (2010): 236-254; Kristine Moruzi, ‘'Never Read Anything That Can at All Unsettle
Your Religious Faith': Reading and Writing in the Monthly Packet’, Women's Writing 17,
no. 2 (2010): 288-304; Teresa Huffman Traver, ‘The Ship That Bears through the Waves’,
Women's Writing 17, no. 2 (2010): 255-267; Susan E. Colón, ‘Realism and Reserve:
Charlotte Yonge and Tractarian Aesthetics’, Women's Writing 17, no. 2 (2010): 221-235.
75
Talia Schaffer, ‘Taming the Tropics: Charlotte Yonge Takes on Melanesia’, Victorian
Studies 47(2005): 204-214.
40
Mary Sumner: religious context
Mary Sumner: networks and doctrinal diversity
Members of Mary Sumner’s network represented a diversity of doctrinal
interpretation, attention to matters of conscience and controversy over issues of
faith, which are encapsulated in the term religious revival.76 The Sumner family
exemplify evangelical enthusiasm within Anglicanism, the religious denomination
of the Established Church of England. Within Anglicanism there were different
emphases on the interpretation of doctrine, Low Church understanding was closer
to the Protestantism of Methodists and other Nonconformist denominations,
whereas High Church (Anglo- Catholic) positions were closer to Roman Catholic
practice. Evangelicalism was a movement across denominations. Mary Sumner’s
parents, Thomas and Elizabeth Heywood, were Anglican converts but had been
prominent Unitarians, whereas her sister took the controversial step of converting
to Roman Catholicism. Charlotte Yonge was an Anglo -Catholic. The thesis chapter
‘Mary Sumner and Religion’ will examine these factors in relation to Mary
Sumner’s stance on doctrine.
Anglicanism and evangelicals
At the time of the inauguration of the GFS (1875) and the parochial genesis of the
MU (1876), the Established Church had negotiated the challenge to its authority
and identity posed by the increase of non-Anglican denominations (as revealed in
the 1851 census) and their increasingly favourable treatment in law.77 The Church
of England encompassed a broad range of positions and interpretations on
doctrine and ritual. According to Gerald Parsons, it had achieved:
76
Chadwick, The Victorian Church Part 2, 1860-1901, 286-299. Revival relates to the active
outreach of denomimations seeking support but is also applied generally to the attention
to matters of belief and controversy on matters of doctrine.
77
Key legislation included the Repeal of the Test and Corporations Act 1828, Catholic
Emancipation Act 1829 and Irish Disestablishment 1871. See Nigel Scotland, John Bird
Sumner: Evangelical Archbishop (Leominster: Gracewing, 1995), 67-80, for details of other
legislation on the financial status of the Church and Sumner's response to social
legislation.
41
...reform of the structure, organization and administration of the Church of
England; revival of its spiritual, theological, pastoral and liturgical life; and
realignment of both its internal structure and relationship to (and place
within) national life and the religious community as a whole. 78
According to Owen Chadwick, ‘the clergy in 1860 were more zealous and better
informed than their 1830 counterparts’.79 However, Anthony Lentin maintains
that the Church of England retained its constitutional status, due to a perception
of its utility to the political fabric of the nation.80 E. R. Norman considers that the
social attitudes of the Church were informed by, and representative of, ruling
class values and notes that bishops remained political appointees and sought
social reconciliation and the upholding of the existing order rather than its
reconstruction.81 Norman’s observation that patronage remained of significant
importance82 and often involved kinship networks is demonstrated in the
relations between the Sumner, Wilberforce and Browne families noted earlier.83
Knight sees the revival and reform of the Established Anglican Church expressed
in the instigation of Church Congresses and views the trend towards hymn singing
illustrating moves towards more active lay participation in religious activity, if not
church governance. The thesis will note Mary Sumner as a Church Congress
speaker and parish organist, activities which illustrate this trend. Knight also
draws attention to the increase in the frequency of communion and the inclusion
of baptism in Sunday services.84 Moyse claims the influence of the MU as
instrumental in this aspect of religious revival.85 For Heeney and Gill, who note
that the majority of congregations were composed of women, Mary Sumner’s MU
was an expression of laywomen’s aspirations to participation in Church affairs.86
78
Gerald Parsons, Religion in Victorian Britain, Vol.1, Traditions (Manchester University
Press in association with the Open University, 1988), 7, 8, 17.
79
Chadwick, The Victorian Church Part 2, 1860-1901, 241, 127.
80
Anthony Lentin, ‘Anglicanism, Parliament and the Courts’, in Religion in Victorian Britain
Volume II Controversies, ed. Gerald Parsons (Manchester: Manchester University Press,
1988), 103.
81
E. R. Norman, Church and Society in England, 1770-1970: A Historical Study (Oxford:
Clarendon Press, 1976), 96.
82
Ibid., 153.
83
Coombs, George and Mary Sumner, 71, 72, 75, 77, 88, 106, 142-143.
84
Knight, The Nineteenth Century Church, 89, 92-94.
85
Moyse, History of the Mothers' Union, 60.
86
Heeney, The Women's Movement in the Church of England, 18 - 19; Gill, Women and the
Church of England, 105 - 106.
42
Frank Turner sees evangelical revival as significant in stimulating the examination
of belief and practice by Anglicans faced with the need to justify the established
status of their Church in the context of the numerical increase of other
denominations.87 Mary Sumner’s father-in-law, Bishop Charles Sumner (17901874) and his brother, Archbishop John Bird Sumner (1780-1862),88 are
considered highly influential evangelicals; representative of what Chadwick
considers ‘the strongest force in British life’. Evangelicalism was significant
because in inspiring religious enthusiasm across a range of denominations it
affected the conduct of public affairs.89 Parsons concludes that Victorian Britain
was ‘a profoundly religious society’.90
The evangelical tradition had its roots in the emotionally experienced religion of
John Wesley and the influence of Claphamite, William Wilberforce (1759-1833).
The evangelical tradition of Wilberforce was firmly within the Anglican Church 91
and was exemplified by his relatives the Sumners and other members of Mary
Sumner’s kinship network. Its potential influence invites investigation in relation
to accounts of Mary Sumner’s life and in the aims of the MU.92 Chadwick notes
the vigour with which evangelicals asserted the need for the reform of public
morals. He considers that their attribution of social ills to moral failings was
expressed in anti -vice campaigns, the promotion of temperance, dislike of
gambling and concern for decency:93 beliefs that will be discussed in relation to
the rules on Mary Sumner’s MU membership card.94
87
Frank Turner, ‘The Victorian Crisis of Faith and the Faith That Was Lost’, in Victorian
Faith in Crisis, ed. Richard J. Helmstadter and Bernard Lightman (California: Stanford,
1991).
88
Respectively Bishops of Winchester and Chester 1821-1848, Canterbury 1848-1862).
89
Owen Chadwick, The Victorian Church Part I, 1827-1859 (London: A. & C.Black, 1966), 5.
See also; Kenneth Hylson-Smith, Evangelicals in the Church of England, 1734-1984
(London: T. & T. Clark, 1988); D.W Bebbington, Evangelicalism in Modern Britain; a
History from the 1730s to the 1980s (London: Routledge, 1988).
90
Parsons, Religion in Victorian Britain, Vol.1, 8.
91
David M. Thompson, Nonconformity in the Nineteenth Century (London: Routledge and
Kegan Paul, 1972). Clapham Church was a well known venue for evangelical worship.
92
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner.
93
Chadwick, The Victorian Church Part 2, 1860-1901, 463-464. Both John Bird and Charles
Sumner campaigned against the Sunday opening of the Crystal Palace in 1851 and for fig
leaves to be placed on nude statues.
94
Sumner, Home Life, 6.
43
Yeo identifies evangelicals in the Church of England as ‘the moral vanguard of the
ruling classes’.95 Similarly, Ian Bradley considers that the emphasis on taking
personal responsibility for public morality made evangelicals keen to convert
persons of high social status, including royalty, to set a positive example of right
living to the lower orders. He notes the evangelical upbringing of Queen Victoria
and John Bird Sumner’s chaplaincy to George IV.96
Evangelicals believed that in order to achieve salvation the depravity of man and
the sacrifice of Christ as atonement for sin must be accepted. Bradley considers
the doctrine of atonement as significant in influencing views on social issues and
in shaping attitudes to empire and colonisation. He also suggests that evangelical
believers sought a purposeful and worthy life in order to be able to give a
satisfactory account of their lives at judgement day.97 This imperative for
accountability encouraged a sense of mission which was frequently realised
through philanthropic activity or educational initiatives.98 Brian Dickey considers
that charity was not only a religious duty but the social obligation of the upper
classes to their inferiors.99 He also suggests that scarcity was seen as representing
a challenge from God which allowed the exercise of the moral virtues of thrift and
forbearance.100
Tractarianism and Roman Catholicism
Charlotte Yonge (1832-1901), the ‘novelist par excellence of the country parish’,101
exemplifies the High Church beliefs of Anglo-Catholic Tractarianism.102 The thesis
will discuss how Mary Sumner, as an evangelical Anglican and Charlotte Yonge, as
95
Eileen Janes Yeo, Radical Femininity; Womens' Self Representation in the Public Sphere
(Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1998), 3.
96
Ian Bradley, The Call to Seriousness; the Evangelical Impact on the Victorians (London:
Jonathan Cape, 1976), 35.
97
Ibid., 21.
98
Ibid., 119.
99
Brian Dickey, ‘Evangelicals and Poverty’, in Evangelical Faith and Public Zeal:
Evangelicals and Society 1780-1980, ed. John Wolffe (London: SPCK, 1995), 38-59.
100
Ibid., 43-45.
101
Chadwick, The Victorian Church Part 2, 1860-1901, 214, considers that Hursley, Keble's
living near Winchester represented the ideal parish.
102
Georgina Battiscombe, Charlotte Mary Yonge the Story of an Uneventful Life (London:
Constable & Co., 1943).Yonge had John Keble an original instigator of the 1833 Tractarian
Oxford Movement as her friend and spiritual mentor.
44
an Anglican Anglo-Catholic found common cause through the GFS (from 1875)
and later in the MU. The doctrinal positions they represent had, however, been
the focus of bitter controversy in which Mary Sumner’s kin were directly involved.
Although Knight suggests that a focus on divisions tends to overlook the lived
continuity of the majority of lay members of the Church and the experience of
religion at the local parish level,103 doctrinal controversy provided a context for
informing Mary Sumner’s personal experience of religion and for shaping the aims
and practices of the Anglican organisations in which she was active.
According to Kathryn Gleadle, Tractarianism, as in the case of evangelical Low
Church views, was a stimulus to religious revival in its reaction against lack of
rigour in religion and morals. Oxford scholars John Keble, Richard Hurrell Froude,
William Palmer and John Henry Newman, the instigators in 1833, through the
‘Tracts for the Times’, of the Tractarian movement, were motivated by a desire to
defend the priestly authority of the clergy against government intervention and to
revitalise, purify and beautify the Anglican Church of England.104 Knight claims the
Anglo-Catholic Anglicanism asserted by Tractarians, challenged the Protestant
ascendancy of the reformation and stimulated scrutiny of the core Anglican
beliefs of apostolic succession, the sacraments of baptism, communion, marriage
and the use of the Book of Common Prayer. This attention to identity involved the
taking of frequently hostile ‘party’ positions amongst Anglicans.105
The evangelical party (notably Archbishop John Bird Sumner and Bishop Charles
Sumner) perceived Tractarianism as a threat to the authority and unity of the
Church of England.106 Tractarian belief in transubstantiation (the objective
presence of the body and blood of Christ in the mass), the sacrificial role of the
priest, priestly authority and baptism as automatically regenerative was close to
Roman Catholic doctrine.107 The High Church Anglo- Catholicism of Tractarianism
103
Knight, The Nineteenth Century Church, 3, 24.
Kathryn Gleadle, The Early Feminists: Radical Unitarians and the Emergence of the
Women's Rights Movements, 1831-51 (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1995), 183. Church
building was also a manifestation of philanthropy.
105
Knight, The Nineteenth Century Church, 2.
106
Scotland, John Bird Sumner, 81-94. Scotland explains Sumner's strong oposition to
Tractarian ideas.
107
Michael Chandler, An Introduction to the Oxford Movement (New York: Church
Publishing, 2003), 99-106.
104
45
associated with a scrutiny of conscience did culminate, in several cases, to
conversion to Roman Catholicism.108 Yeo considers that despite the relaxation in
legal restrictions to denominational participation in public institutional life there
remained intense anti-Roman Catholic suspicion. Whilst the prevalence of Roman
Catholicism in the urban lower orders might be attributed to deficiencies of
education, class or ‘race’, when practised by the ruling classes, it was a cause of
social and political, as well as spiritual unease because it asserted the authority of
the Pope as transcending national boundaries.109 Clerical celibacy was also a focus
for concern because it challenged the patriarchal governance of the family: an
institution regarded by Anglicans and evangelicals, including Mary Sumner,110 as
divinely ordained and a bulwark of social order.111
Unitarianism
Mary Sumner’s parents, although Anglican converts, had been prominent
members of the Unitarian Manchester Cross Street Chapel, yet neither Mary
Sumner Her Life and Work nor George and Mary Sumner their Life and Times refer
to this.112 Although Coombs acknowledges the Nonconformist tradition of the
family her assertion that the Heywoods all ‘returned to the Church of England’ is
incorrect.113 References to Unitarianism in Mary Sumner’s background are not
108
Notably the prominent Anglicans (and future RC cardinals) John Henry Newman and
Henry Manning and Henry, William and Robert Wilberforce, the brothers of Bishop
Samuel Wilberforce, Bradley, The Call to Seriousness, 13; Coombs, George and Mary
Sumner, 51. Coombs explains Charles Sumner's position on Roman Catholicism. Mary
Sumner's sister also converted but this is not addressed by Coombs.
109
For the hysterical reaction of a lady passenger to seeing Pugin crossing himself whilst
on a train; 'Guard, guard, let me out!' and for the attitude of the Unitarian Samuel Gaskell
to the threat of his daughter converting, see Eileen Janes Yeo, ‘Protestant Feminists and
Catholic Saints’, in Radical Femininity: Womens Self Representation in the Public Sphere,
ed. Eileen Janes Yeo (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1998), 127.
110
Mary Sumner, ‘Marriage Address 2’, in Home Life 18-24 (Winchester: Warren and Son,
1895), 20, 'The Home is God's own institution, ordained and founded by Him at the
Beginning’.
111
Carmen M. Mangion, ‘Women and Female Institution Building’, in Women, Gender and
Religious Cultures in Britain, 1800-1940, ed. Morgan and de Vries (London: Routledge,
2011); Yeo, ‘Protestant Feminists and Catholic Saints’.
112
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, preface xi,xii, 4-8.
113
Coombs, George and Mary Sumner, 37; M. C. Curthoys, ‘Heywood, James (1810–
1897)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009).
[http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/56315, accessed 26 Nov. 2012]. James
46
explored in Moyse’s History of the Mothers’ Union: Women, Anglicanism and
Globalisation 1876-2008.114 This thesis will note resonances with Unitarian
characteristics with regard to Mary Sumner’s identity, attitudes and activism,
particularly in relation to women and education, which will be the focus of a
following chapter.
Unitarians did not believe in the virgin birth or the doctrine of the Trinity, nor did
they use the Book of Common Prayer. They were also distinctive in denying the
doctrine of original sin. For Unitarians, Jesus was not divine but represented the
most perfect human, thus humanity was envisioned as perfectible and living
religion as an application of reason to improve the individual and society.
Katherine Gleadle considers these beliefs significant in influencing attitudes to the
spiritual status, role and education of women. 115
Mary Sumner’s Heywood relatives have received attention from Ruth Watts as
significant representatives of the Unitarian emphasis on philanthropy, education
and culture.116 According to Gleadle, the Unitarian concept of fraternal spiritual
ties connecting the whole human race gave impetus to their enthusiasm for civic
improvement, philanthropy and education. However, she considers that this
served to promote middle-class values for middle class benefit. As in the
evangelical tradition within Anglicanism, social ills were seen as attributable to
bad habits and the remedies were to be sought in personal improvement.117
Watts and Gleadle also note what Helen Plant encapsulates as ‘the quest by
Unitarian men to achieve ‘gentleman’ status and occupy the positions of
leadership within the new urban middle class to which their growing affluence
seemed to entitle them’.118 David Bebbington gives further insight into Unitarians
Heywood kept his Unitarian faith and sources relating to Mary Sumner do not provide
evidence that there was contact between Mary and James.
114
Moyse, History of the Mothers' Union, 19.
115
Gleadle, The Early Feminists, 26.
116
Watts, Gender, Power and the Unitarians in England, 1760-1860, 91. Mary Sumner's
parents were Thomas Heywood (1797-1866) formerly of Heywood's Bank in Manchester
and Mary Elizabeth Barton (d 1870).
117
Gleadle, The Early Feminists, 4, 178, 183. Samuel Smiles the advocate of 'Self Help' is
noted as a Unitarian.
118
Helen Plant, ‘Ye Are All One in Christ Jesus': Aspects of Unitarianism and Feminism in
Birmingham, C. 1869–90’, Women’s History Review 9, no. 4 (2000), 723.
47
and power in his discussion of Unitarian members of parliament including Mary
Sumner’s uncles, James Heywood (1810-1897) and Sir Benjamin Heywood (17931865). Bebbington attributes the latter’s conversion to the established church to
the attraction of liturgy rather than status but the conversions of Benjamin and
Thomas Heywood did coincide with advances in their social and political
position.119
Turner points to Unitarianism as having a significant impact on Anglicanism in
fostering rational enquiry and the imperative for ‘improvement’.120 Chadwick
attributes the acceptance of ‘higher criticism’ (a historical and metaphorical
reading of the Bible) by moderate Anglican Churchmen such as Charles Kingsley
and Archbishop Temple, Sumner acquaintances, who no longer felt the need to
defend the literal word of the Bible and regarded scientific enquiry as the search
for God’s truth, to be reflective of the influence of Unitarianism.121 Moyes notes
the acceptance of this position by the MU, despite its emphasis on the Bible as a
sacred inspirational text.122
Spiritual womanhood, purity and motherhood
Jenny Daggers suggests that although the expressions ‘true womanhood’ and ‘cult
of domesticity’, are widely used in describing ideals of Victorian womanhood the
term ‘spiritual womanhood’ is a better expression of the significance of
Protestant Christianity in constructions of femininity derived from the supposed
superior moral sensibility of good women.123 Heeney explains the patriarchal
theology, drawn from Genesis and the Epistles of St Paul, articulated in
119
Bebbington, ‘Unitarian Members of Parliament in the Nineteenth Century’.
12.[accessed 20 Aug. 2011]; McConnell, ‘Heywood, Sir Benjamin, First Baronet (1793–
1865).’; M. C. Curthoys, ‘Heywood, James (1810–1897).’ Oxford Dictionary of National
Biography (Oxford University Press, 2009),
[http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/56315, accessed 26 Nov. 2012].
120
Turner, ‘The Victorian Crisis of Faith.’
121
Chadwick, The Victorian Church Part 2, 1860-1901, 23,26. Chadwick notes Frederick
Temple as a proponent of Higher Criticism and notes his Bampon lecture in 1896 giving
the view that 'evolution is an accepted axiom'. Chadwick notes 'liberal divines found it
easy to welcome Darwin'.
122
Moyse, History of the Mothers' Union, 58 - 60.
123
Jenny Daggers, ‘The Victorian Female Civilising Mission and Women's Aspirations
Towards Priesthood in the Church of England’, Women's History Review 10, no. 4 (2001):
651-670.
48
justification for the Anglican subordination of women, which the thesis will argue
Mary Sumner and Charlotte Yonge upheld.124 Biblical authority asserted that
women and men had been endowed by the Creator with different but
complementary characteristics, not only biologically but emotionally, intellectually
and even spiritually, which suited them for the performance of different roles.125
According to Gill, Mary Sumner supported views on gender in accord with
patriarchal Anglican theology, which, whilst denying women authority,
acknowledged their moral sensibility and utility as Church workers, but envisaged
womanhood in terms of marriage and motherhood.126 Patricia Grimshaw likewise
considers womanhood to be conflated with maternalism in the Church.127 For Gill,
the MU was ‘one of the most significant institutional embodiments of
conservative Christian constructions of womanhood’.128 Lucy Bland interprets the
MU as the agency for Anglican containment of women’s power within the
Church.129
The significance of the evangelical tradition in asserting the separate natures of
men and women is noted by Yeo and Deborah Gorham.130 Similarly, Gill and John
Tosh131 identify the influence of the evangelical Anglican, William Wilberforce, in
asserting a heightened religious sensibility in women, which was thought to suit
them to the sphere of home, as providers not only of physical respite but a moral
refuge from the competitive masculine world of work and public affairs.132
Gorham sees the qualities of the ‘Angel in the House’, a phrase originating from
Coventry Patmore’s poem extolling loving domesticity and used by Mary Sumner,
as encapsulating this conception of spiritual womanhood.133 The evangelical focus
on the home as a site of religious observance, far from suggesting a division of
124
Heeney, The Women's Movement in the Church of England, 7-9. Heeney notes Charlotte
Yonge's belief in the inferiority of woman as articulated in her 1877 work 'Womankind'.
125
Ibid., 9; Gill, Women and the Church of England, 91.
126
Women and the Church of England, 103.
127
Patricia Grimshaw, ‘In Pursuit of True Anglican Womanhood in Victoria, 1880-1914’
Women's History Review 2, no. 3 (1993): 331-347.
128
Gill, Women and the Church of England, 103.
129
Lucy Bland, ‘Purifying the Public World: Feminist Vigilantes in Late Victorian England’,
Women's History Review 1, no. 3 (1992): 397-412..
130
Yeo, ‘Some Paradoxes of Empowerment’, 4; Deborah Gorham, The Victorian Girl and
the Feminine Ideal (London: Croom Helm, 1982), 3.
131
Tosh, A Man's Place: Masculinity and the Middle-Class Home in Victorian England.
132
Gill, Women and the Church of England, 29-31.
133
Gorham, The Victorian Girl, 7-9. Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner: 8;
Sumner, ‘Early Life’.
49
separate spheres, involved greater emphasis on domestic relations. The
negotiation of marriage and the role of fathers in domestic life, issues that Mary
Sumner addressed in much of her writing, have received increased attention from
writers focusing on gender, notably Tosh and Stephanie Olsen.134
Yeo points to the paradox between constructions of woman as spiritual and as
Eve the temptress, which reflected the evangelical attitude to original sin and the
emphasis on the need for atonement.135 So, an essential attribute of the spiritual
woman and a pillar of her reputation was chastity. There was an absolute division
between the ‘fallen’ woman who had lost her sexual innocence without the rite of
marriage and the ‘pure’ woman.136 The thesis will discuss the dedication of the
MU and the GFS to preserving the purity and ‘respectability’ of their members.137
Mary Sumner considered upholding ‘the sanctity of marriage’ essential for
preserving the status of women and the morals of society.138 Her association of
divorce with social breakdown is noted by Gill.139 Moyse gives extensive attention
to the campaigns of the MU in opposition to legislative reform intended to
facilitate divorce.140
According to Yeo, the religious role of the wife and mother in the Christian home
became a ‘hegemonic and a dominant discourse’. She contends that the language
of motherhood was a language of power, related to class and applicable to
unmarried as well as married women.141 The thesis will examine Mary Sumner’s
134
'Evangelical Christianity was a domestic religion'[which] 'articulated a new masculine
norm against which men's conduct has been measured ever since', Tosh, A Man's Place:
Masculinity and the Middle-Class Home in Victorian England, 6, 11; see also Knight, The
Nineteenth Century Church, 41. Knight notes the large volume of religious publication as
evidence for the home as a site of religious observance; Stephanie Olsen, ‘The Authority of
Motherhood in Question: Fatherhood and the Moral Education of Children in England, c.
1870–1900’, Women's History Review 18, no. 5 (2009): 765-780.
135
Yeo, ‘Some Paradoxes of Empowerment’, 8.
136
Gill, Women and the Church of England, 25, 125.
137
For a discussion of respectability as demarking social status see Cannadine, Class in
Britain, 92-94.
138
Sumner, Home Life, 10, Objects of the Mothers' Union: To uphold the sanctity of
marriage; [Mothers should] lead their families in purity and holiness of life; Gill, Women
and the Church of England, 90.
139
Women and the Church of England, 94.
140
Moyse, History of the Mothers' Union, 69-77, 116-126, 170-181, 188-194, 230- 113.
141
Yeo, Radical Femininity: Womens' Self Representation in the Public Sphere, 4. The 1834
Poor Law required the mother only to support an illegitimate child. Implicit in the 1833
50
deployment of the rhetoric of spiritual womanhood in terms of Yeo’s claim that
women, particularly from the upper and middle classes, mobilised the language of
motherhood to legitimise their identities as activists.142 Yeo identifies empowering
motherhood and the disciplining or protecting motherhood that may operate by
trying to assimilate others into the approved cultural pattern.143 For Yeo, the
notion of empowerment relates not only to the ability to act towards
achievement of self-directed aims, as in the notion of agency, but also relates to
the claims of value relating to activities and qualities women may draw on to
validate their actions and identities.144 Empowerment in this sense relates to that
which is sustaining to self-worth and the negotiation of horizons of possibility.145
These notions will be explored in relation to Mary Sumner as a woman of
conservative social views, who aimed to educate mothers in religiously sanctioned
behaviour, yet could claim, on the basis of the numbers of women in her
organisation, to represent a substantial body of opinion.
‘Women’s mission’: philanthropy and society
In the period coinciding with Mary Sumner’s life trajectory and activism there was
a proliferation of philanthropic activity. David Cannadine, in his exploration of
Class in Britain, argues that, in the context of nineteenth century, perceptions of
rapid social change, concern about social division and aspirations for the
improvement of society, the language of class was used increasingly. He considers
that ‘most members of the governing elite still believed that society was
hierarchical and that hierarchy was to be defended and asserted’.146 However,
Cannadine sees class as more nuanced and permeable than the three tier
categories of working, middle and upper class: ‘it is misleading to think of a
homogenous middle and upper class, with a clear division between them. Both
encompassed great ranges of income, from magnates, to lesser gentry, merchant
Factories and 1842 Mines Acts was the view that work demeaned femininity. The 1857
Divorce Act allowed adultery as grounds only to men.
142
‘Some Paradoxes of Empowerment’, 13.
143
‘The Creation of 'Motherhood' and Women's Responses in Britain and France 17501914'.
144
Yeo, ‘Some Paradoxes of Empowerment’.
145
Malmgreen, Religion in the Lives of English Women, 1760-1930.
146
David Cannadine, Class in Britain (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1998),
60, 87.
51
bankers to shop keepers’.147 Cannadine argues a similar diversity in relation to
working and middle class status and identifies the notion of respectability as a
social demarcation that was variously applicable across classes and not necessarily
the preserve of those of higher social status.148 Mary Sumner’s attitudes to social
stratification and the notion of respectability will be explored in the thesis.
The tensions accruing to philanthropy as a vehicle for agency, social control,
empowerment, citizenship and the intersections of public and private space is a
recurring theme in recent scholarship.149 Constraint and empowerment are not
fixed positions, as Morgan demonstrates in the context of purity campaigner Ellice
Hopkins.150 These tensions and fluidities are manifest in Mary Sumner’s MU, in
which religious values define and legitimise the understanding of gendered
identities and prescribe women’s roles as maternal. Moyse considers that, ‘The
MU with its espousal of Christian womanhood has not only constrained women
but has also empowered them by giving dignity and status to their domestic lives
and often sacrificial choices’.151 The notion of ‘choice’ points towards an
examination of the circumstances (not necessarily of their own making) such as
social structures, locations of power and situations that mediated women’s
‘horizons of possibility’.152
Philanthropic endeavour was both prolific and diverse.153 Moyse argues that the
MU ‘had to fight hard for allegiance due to the vast number of competing and
self-help societies’.154 Yet many Anglican activists, including Mary Sumner, in the
147
Ibid., 91.
Ibid., 92-94.
149
Mary Wollstonecraft and 200 Years of Feminisms (London: Rivers Oram, 1997);
Malmgreen, Religion in the Lives of Englsih Women; Gill, Women and the Church of
England; Morgan and de Vries, Women, Gender and Religious Cultures in Britain, 18001940, provide examples.
150
Morgan, A Passion for Purity; ‘Faith Sex and Purity: The Religio-Feminist Theory of Ellice
Hopkins’, Women’s History Review 9 no. 1(2000): 13-34.
151
Moyse, History of the Mothers' Union, 8.
152
Jane Martin and Joyce Goodman, Women and Education, 1800-1980 (Basingstoke:
Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), 12.
153
Susan Mumm, ‘Women and Philanthropic Cultures’, in Women, Gender and Religious
Cultures in Britain, 1800-1940, ed. Morgan and de Vries (London: Routledge, 2010), 56.
154
Moyse, History of the Mothers' Union, 30.
148
52
Winchester locality, showed sustained commitment to a number of religious and
philanthropic causes ‘multiple service being the rule rather than the exception’.155
Religion, given stimulus by the evangelical revival, which crossed denominational
boundaries, was ‘the moral engine’ for reform.156 Susan Mumm claims that
almost all philanthropy was organised along denominational lines.157 Bradley
considers philanthropic activity to have been particularly appealing to ladies
seeking to be useful and an opportunity to realise the evangelical imperative of
seeking converts to ‘vital religion’.158 Frank Prochaska documents the amount of
philanthropic enterprise engaged in by women and he considers that the MU
fitted into an existing tradition of philanthropic social patronage exercised by
‘ladies’.159 Gill sees the religiously authorised maternal qualities attributed to
women being perceived as a mandate for social action.160 The notion of women as
civilizing agents is also reflected in Simon Morgan’s view that the presence of
women added respectability to public occasions.161 The negotiation of the
fluidities of domestic roles and public engagement legitimised by religion and
class will be considered in relation to the activism of Mary Sumner.
Jane Jordan and Sue Morgan respectively have explained the religiously motivated
reforming ambitions of ‘spiritual women’, Josephine Butler and Jane Ellice
Hopkins, in seeking equal moral standards between men and women:162 a theme
that will be identified in Mary Sumner’s aims for the MU. According to Mary
Ryan, ‘It is to the domain of the public that women turn to achieve and protect
155
Miller, ‘Moral Purity and the Servant Problem; the Interaction of Winchester Ladies and
Winchester Women Circa 1884-1910’, 24.
156
Heeney, The Women's Movement in the Church of England, 19.
157
Mumm, ‘Women and Philanthropic Cultures'.
158
Bradley, The Call to Seriousness, 119.
159
Frank K. Prochaska, Women and Philanthropy in Nineteenth Century England (Oxford:
Clarendon Press, 1980); Prochaska, The Angel out of the House.
160
Gill, Women and the Church of England: 84. See also ; Daggers, ‘The Victorian Female
Civilising Mission and Women's Aspirations Towards Priesthood in the Church of England'.
161
Simon Morgan, A Victorian Woman's Place: Public Culture in the Nineteenth Century
(London: Tauris Academic Studies, 2007), 160, 168.
162
Jane Jordan, Josephine Butler (London: John Murray, 2001), 207. Butler, although not in
the MU as she concentrated on opposing the Contagious Diseases Acts and organised
prostitution, considered Mary Sumner her 'good friend and neighbour' in Winchester;
Morgan, A Passion for Purity. Hopkins wrote on behalf of the MU. See Appendix 2.
53
their private as well as public objectives’, an analysis that will be highlighted by
the MU’s engagement in legislation on moral issues.163
Lucy Bland draws attention to the application of a moral agenda to material
aspects of social improvement in attempts to modify working class culture,
notably with regard to temperance, an interest that will be traced in Mary
Sumner’s MU agenda.164 Mumm also identifies rectifying social disorder as a
motivating element in philanthropy.165 Jessica Gerard interprets the exercise of
philanthropy by the upper/middle ‘landed classes’, as legitimising the inequality of
a stratified society.166 Diana Kendall likewise sees a tradition of benevolence
upholding social stratification.167
Mumm concedes that the privilege of female philanthropists informed their
assumption of class as a mandate for patronage of the lower classes but in her
consideration of the GFS, refutes the notion that all philanthropy was
disempowering for recipients.168 Moyse similarly acknowledges that Mary
Sumner’s attitudes reflected the assumption that the upper /middle classes had a
mandate for, and an obligation to, lead a stratified society towards reform. Yet
she asserts the social inclusivity of the MU as distinctive, a paradox that invites
further investigation.169 Catriona Beaumont’s claim that the MU validated
women’s identities by celebrating their contribution to society as mothers,170 and
Anne O’Brien’s view that the MU affirmed women’s sense of worth, reflect the
163
Mary P. Ryan, ‘The Public and the Private Good across the Great Divide in Women’s
History ‘, Journal of Women’s History 15, no. 1 (2003): 10-57. For divorce see Moyse,
History of the Mothers' Union: 69-77, 116-126, 170-181, 188-192, 230-233.
164
Bland, ‘Purifying the Public World: Feminist Vigilantes in Late Victorian England’. See
also Nigel Scotland, Squires in the Slums: Settlements and Missions in Late Victorian Britain
(London: I. B. Tauris, 2007), 253-254.
165
Mumm, ‘Women and Philanthropic Cultures’, 64, 57; See also Eileen Janes Yeo, ‘Some
Contradictions of Social Motherhood’, in Mary Wollstonecraft 200 Years of Feminisms, ed.
Eileen Janes Yeo (London and New York: Rivers Oram Press, 1997).
166
Jessica Gerard, ‘Lady Bountiful Women of the Landed Classes and Rural Philanthropy’,
Victorian Studies 30, no. 2 (1987): 183-210.
167
Diana Kendall, The Power of Good Deeds: Privileged Women and the Social
Reproduction of the Upper Class (Boston: Rawman Littlefield, 2002).
168
Mumm, ‘Women and Philanthropic Cultures’, 56.
169
Moyse, History of the Mothers' Union, 8, 30.
170
Catriona Beaumont, ‘Citizens Not Feminists: The Boundary Negotiated between
Citizenship and Feminism by Mainstream Women’s Organisations in England, 1928-39’,
Women’s History Review 9, no. 2 (2000): 411-429; Catriona Beaumont, Housewives and
Citizens Domesticity and the Women's Movement in England, 1928-64, Gender in History
(Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2013).
54
possibility of simultaneous constraint and empowerment which reflect Yeo’s
analysis of discourses of motherhood.171
Mumm suggests that philanthropy run by women presents opportunities for
investigating female leadership. She considers that there is more room for
exploring women’s religiously inspired action, in order to better understand the
social function of such groups and the context in which they operated.172 Mary
Sumner, as the leader of a religiously motivated organisation that drew in an
upper/middle class Anglican leadership and large numbers of members from a
wider class range, nationally and transnationally, forms in Mumm’s terms, a
candidate for investigation.
Empire, Church, mission and womanhood
Andrew Porter suggests that British imperial pre-eminence reflected assumptions
of cultural and racial superiority and that the ‘improvement’ of less civilized and
unchristian societies was perceived as an obligation.173 Bebbington follows a
similar theme in relating Church endorsement of the imperial project to
evangelical views on the need to atone for previous exploitation perpetrated
overseas.174 Rendall also identifies the evangelical impulse as a factor in
stimulating missionary activity175 and Stephen Maugham and Brian Stanley
consider the use made of missions by Church and state in relation to both
legitimising and drawing authority from, imperial expansion.176 For Gill, Mary
171
Anne O’Brien, ‘Militant Mothers: Faith Power and Identity in the Mothers' Union in
Sydney 1896-1950 ‘, Women’s History Review 9, no. 1 (2000): 35-53.
172
Mumm, ‘Women and Philanthropic Cultures’, 57.
173
A. N. Porter, The Imperial Horizons of British Protestant Missions, 1880-1914 (Grand
Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans, 2003), 2.
174
David W. Bebbington, ‘Atonement, Sin and Empire 1880-1914’, in The Imperial Horizons
of British Protestant Missions, 1880-1914, ed. Andrew Porter (Michigan: Wm B. Eedrmans,
2003), 5, 9.
175
Jane Rendall, ‘The Condition of Women, Women’s Writing and the Empire in
Nineteenth Century Britain’, in At Home with the Empire Metropolitan Culture and the
Imperial World, ed. Catherine Hall and Sonia O. Rose (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 2006), 108.
176
Steven Maughan, ‘Imperial Christianity? Bishop Montgomery and the Foreign Missions
of the Church of England, 1895-1915’, in The Imperial Horizons of British Protestant
Missions 1880-1914, ed. A. N. Porter (Grand Rapids Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2003);
Brian Stanley, ‘Church State and the Hierarchy of 'Civilization: The Making of the World
55
Sumner is ‘representative of a Late Victorian Anglicanism that benefitted from the
upsurge of imperialist sentiment’.177 Moyse documents the transnational
expansion of the MU and comments on its conscious strategy of developing itself
as an imperial organization.178 Bush similarly identifies the GFS as an organisation
which put imperial ideology into practice through the establishment of colonial
branches.179 The thesis will examine these issues with regard to Mary Sumner’s
views and the position of the MU as both a Church and imperial organisation.
The influence of the periphery in the construction of identities in the metropole,
demonstrated by Hall and Rose as a relational transaction bound up with
religion180 is evident in the work of Judith Godden, Jane Haggis and Tanya
Fitzgerald on missionary identities.181 Susan Thorne considers missionary
intelligence to be a distinguishing feature of Victorian culture and makes the
association with religion, mission and empire by noting that ‘Victorians learned
much of what they knew about empire in church’.182 The exercise of philanthropy
at home is seen by Alison Twells not only to draw on the metaphor of foreign
mission but to be part of the same project and informative of middle-class identity
and culture.183 Porter suggests that missionary enterprise was drawn on ‘as a
source of renewal for metropolitan Anglicanism’.184 Bebbington sees the valorous
missionary as ‘a metropolitan construction for a metropolitan readership’185 as
exemplified in Charlotte Yonge’s novels, which feature missionary enterprise with
Missionary Conference, Edinburgh 1910’, in The Imperial Horizons of British Protestant
Missions, 1880-1914, ed. A. N. Porter (Grand Rapids MIchigan WM B. Eerdmans, 2002).
177
Gill, Women and the Church of England, 104.
178
Moyse, History of the Mothers' Union, 80-86.
179
Bush, Edwardian Ladies.
180
Hall and Rose, At Home with the Empire, 2, 5, 6; Catherine Hall, Civilising Subjects:
Metropole and Colony in the English Imagination, 1830-1867 (Cambridge: Polity, 2002);
Susan Thorne, ‘Religion and Empire at Home’, in At Home with the Empire Metropolitan
Culture and the Imperial World, ed. Catherine Hall and Sonia O. Rose (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 2006).
181
Judith Godden, ‘Containment and Control: Presbyterian Women and the Missionary
Impulse in New South Wales, 1891-1914’, Women's History Review 6, no. 1 (1997): 75-93;
Jane Haggis, ‘‘A Heart That Has Felt the Love of God and Longs for Others to Know It’:
Conventions of Gender, Tensions of Self and Constructions of Difference in Offering to Be
a Lady Missionary’, Women's History Review 7, no. 2(1998): 171-193; Tanya Fitzgerald,
‘Archives of Memory and Memories of Archive'.
182
Thorne, ‘Religion and Empire at Home’, 145.
183
Alison Twells, The Civilising Mission and the English Middle Class, 1792-1850: The
‘Heathen’ at Home and Overseas (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), 5.
184
Porter, Imperial Horizons, 2.
185
Bebbington, ‘Atonement, Sin and Empire 1880-1914’, 9.
56
the intention of inspiring religious behaviour.186 Ruth Watt’s identification of the
embeddedness of empire in educational material adds a further layer to Hall and
Rose’s assertion of the impact of the periphery on the consciousness of those ‘at
home’.187
Elizabeth Prevost, who gives substantial attention to the MU in her work on
colonial Africa, sees mission as ‘a crucial vector by which Britons experienced the
non-western world’. She also considers that religion was the framework by which
women conceptualized, articulated and challenged other social categories’.188
Jane Rendall, too, sees gender identities related to imperial identities. She argues
that British women used the zenana as a powerful symbol of women’s oppression
in heathen society, which was seen as evidence of the cultural superiority of
Christian values and by implication to vindicate imperial rule.189 Paradoxically, the
constraint of zenana women provided white women with the opportunity to
occupy a role exclusive to women in missionary societies.190 Mary Louse Pratt and
Billie Melman discuss perceptions of ‘otherness’ by European travellers and
constructions of identity drawn from them by travellers and their audiences.191
Melman’s analysis of the responses of women travellers provides insights towards
exploring Mary Sumner’s first hand observations of zenana life in the ‘East’
reported in her published accounts.
Bush emphasises the symbolic significance of maternal discourse as central to
imperialism.192 For Bush, Queen Victoria embodies the notion of the mother
country and the association of the domestic family with the family of empire.193
186
Schaffer, ‘Taming the Tropics: Charlotte Yonge Takes on Melanesia'; Huffman Traver,
‘The Ship That Bears through the Waves’; Walton, ‘Charlotte Yonge: Marketing the
Missionary Story’.
187
Ruth Watts, ‘Education, Empire and Social Change in Nineteenth Century England’,
Paedagogica Historica 45, no. 6 (2009): 773-786.
188
Elizabeth E. Prevost, The Communion of Women: Missions and Gender in Colonial Africa
and the British Metropole (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 159.
189
Rendall, ‘The Condition of Women, Women’s Writing and the Empire in Nineteenth
Century Britain’, 104; See also Bush, Edwardian Ladies, 122. Bush comments on the
association of assumptions of cultural superiority with gendered racial attitudes.
190
Gill, Women and the Church of England, 181-197.
191
Mary Louise Pratt, Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation (London:
Routledge, 1992); Billie Melman, Women's Orients: English Women and the Middle East,
1718-1918: Sexuality, Religion and Work (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1995).
192
Bush, '‘The Right Sort of Woman', 399-400.
193
Bush, Edwardian Ladies, 69.
57
Bush identifies Ellen Joyce, who saw the emigration of Christian women as a
civilizing influence on male colonists and the indigenous population, as an
exponent of imperial motherhood.194 Moyse comments on the way the MU drew
on the notion of ‘divine patriotism’, which associated imperial rule with Christian
service, to validate and inspire responsible mothering.195 She also notes the
association of the organization with a ‘positive eugenics’ that linked imperial
greatness with quantity and quality of the population. The conduct of the good
moral mother was associated with the physical as well as moral fitness of the
future citizen.196
Prevost considers that despite not being an official missionary organisation, the
MU promoted missionary enterprise though reinforcing Christian values,
upholding purity and offering protective education.197 It also supported
missionary workers and in common with the GFS reported on missionary
enterprise in its publications.198 Both O’Brien and Heeney point to the remarkable
expansion of the MU in the imperial context. ‘With its roots in a tradition of
English philanthropy, revived by late nineteenth century fears of social disorder,
the MU’s growth worldwide in the thirty years before the first world war was
phenomenal’.199 Further investigation of Mary Sumner’s views on the role of
Christian mothers in relation to nation and empire and the strategies she pursued
in extending the MU overseas will be considered in the thesis in order to increase
understanding of this phenomenon.
194
‘The Right Sort of Woman': Female Emigrators and Emigration to the British Empire,
1890-1910 ‘; ‘Edwardian Ladies and the ‘Race‘ Dimensions of British Imperialism';
Edwardian Ladies; Chilton, Agents of Empire: British Female Migration to Canada and
Australia, 1860s-1930. Chilton emphasises the networking of women involved in
emigration through the BWEA and GFS.
195
Moyse, History of the Mothers' Union, 79-86.
196
Anna Davin, ‘Imperialism and Motherhood’, History Workshop 5(1978): 9-66. Davin
notes the eugenic motivation for the education of working class mothers in St Pancras. For
further discussion of morality and eugenics see Lesley Hall, Sex, Gender and Social Change
in Britain since 1880 (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2000).
197
Prevost, Communion of Women.
198
Moyse, History of the Mothers' Union, 83-86.
199
O’Brien, ‘Militant Mothers’, 37; Heeney, The Women's Movement in the Church of
England, 44, 45.
58
Education: popular education, religion, philanthropy and
women
In locating Mary Sumner in relation to education, this thesis interprets her as a
popular educator. For Alejandro Tiana Ferrer the concept of popular education
‘should be taken as the whole set of educational activities aimed at providing
education for popular classes’. His definition of popular classes refers to social
groupings that overlap with the notions of ‘working’ and ‘lower’ class a definition
that accommodates Mary Sumner’s initiatives directed towards a wide section of
the populace, encompassing but not, (as the thesis will explore), exclusively
confined to, those of ‘lower class’.200 Sjaak Braster’s exploration of notions of
popular education similarly includes initiatives directed towards and arising from,
attempts to educate both by formal and informal means.201 These understandings
which encompass provision by groups or individuals with philanthropic or
religious allegiance also accommodate the initiatives towards proliferating
knowledge and modifying behaviour that the thesis will explore in relation to
Mary Sumner.
David Wardle, whose interest includes the development of state intervention in
education, places more emphasis on the broader notion of popular education as
education of the people. Yet, philanthropy as a civilizing mission (whether at
home or overseas), is compatible with David Wardle’s understanding of popular
education as initiatives towards socialisation.202 John Hurt interprets popular
educational initiatives in the period covered by the thesis as a response to fears of
social disorder. He identifies the dissemination of religious knowledge as a
civilising initiative.203 Harold Silver makes an explicit claim for attention to religion
as contributory to a broader context of ideas and social movements influential to
200
Alejandro Tiana Ferrer, ‘The Concept of Popular Education Revisited - or What Do We
Talk About When We Speak of Popular Education’, Paedagogica Historica 47, no. Nos. 1-2
(2011): 27.
201
Sjaak Braster, ‘The People, the Poor and the Oppressed: The Concept of Popular
Education through Time’, Paedagogica Historica 47, no. Nos. 1-2 (2011): 1-14..
202
Wardle, English Popular Education. However the role of women as educators through
philanthropy is not given attention.
203
John Hurt, Education in Evolution: Church, State, Society and Popular Education 18001870 (London: Rupert Hart- Davis, 1971).
59
developments in education.204 These themes will be explored in relation to Mary
Sumner’s educational activism.
The relationship of Church and state in the provision of education and the
contested negotiation of secular and denominational provision (notably in the era
of the Board Schools which coincided with the establishment of the GFS and the
MU) is discussed by James Murphy.205 W.B. Stephens’s analysis of the
development of the education system in Britain which evolved during the
nineteenth century towards systemic state provision, notes the leading role of
the Church in the provision of elementary education ‘attributable to Anglican
parochial infrastructure’ and highlights the funding of training colleges by
bishops.206 According to Terence Copley, it was as providers of education that the
churches exercised a degree of social influence and control.207 Stephens
recognises this analysis but notes, ’this is not to be interpreted as malicious or
deliberate’.208 However, Hurt’s identification of the apprehension felt by Anglicans
at the prospect of state education that was secular rather than religious,209 is
indicative of contested values concerning curricula, a concern that will be
explored in Mary Sumner’s Church school patronage and her engagement in
upholding a religious element in state education.210
Mumm, writing in the context of the GFS, notes that much religiously inspired
philanthropy was educational.211 Sunday school teaching may be located in this
analysis and seen as an opportunity for women to extend their maternal
educative role beyond home into the sphere of public education.212 Mumm’s
observation that philanthropic activity reshaped the identities of those engaged in
204
Silver, ‘Knowing and Not Knowing in the History of Education'.
James Murphy, Church, State and Schools in Britain 1800-1970 (London: Routledge and
Kegan Paul, 1971).
206
W. B. Stephens, Education in Britain, 1750-1914 (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1998), 6.
207
Terence Copley, Spiritual Development in the State School : A Perspective on Worship
and Spirituality in the Education System of England and Wales (Exeter: University of
Exeter Press, 2000), 17.
208
Stephens, Education in Britain, 1750-1914, 17.
209
Hurt, Education in Evolution, 20.
210
Moyse, History of the Mothers' Union.
211
Mumm, ‘Women and Philanthropic Cultures’.
212
Chadwick, The Victorian Church Part 2, 1860-1901, 192. Charlotte Yonge taught at
Sunday School from the age of seven as part of her own education in philanthropic
service.
205
60
its delivery, suggests that it performed an educative function for patrons as well
as the patronised.213 Georgina Brewis pays specific attention to this in her analysis
of philanthropic activism as part of the educational experience of middle-class
girls.214
Religion mediated women’s educational experience in several ways. It framed
gendered assumptions on women’s spiritual, emotional and sexual nature and
intellectual capacity: it legitimised domesticated roles and the notions of restraint
and service. In so doing it framed responses to the purpose and practice of
education for women.215 It also informed notions of women as educators. The
significant influence of Anglican Hannah More (1745-1833) in this tradition has
been identified by Anne Stott.216 Although seeing Hannah More as reformist in
asserting the need for mothers to be educated in order to fulfil the role of
religious home educator, Jane Nardin notes that More’s agenda was negotiated
within existing social and religious gendered identities.217 The thesis will examine
Mary Sumner’s exemplification of these characteristics.218
Until the latter years of the century education for most women of the middle and
upper classes was not only for home but largely undertaken at home. Despite this,
some girls were able to achieve a high standard of learning in ‘papa’s study’.219
Reading was of central importance here but was also the medium for less
intellectual education for adults and the young. Gorham identifies the
proliferation of advice, both spiritual and practical, that became available from
213
Mumm, ‘Women and Philanthropic Cultures’, 56.
Georgina Brewis, ‘From Working Parties to Social Work: Middle Class Girls’ Education
and Social Service 1890–1914’, History of Education 38, no. 6 (2009): 761-777.
215
Dale Spender, The Education Papers: Women’s Quest for Equality in Britain 1850-1912
(London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1987), 10-31; Burstyn, Victorian Education, 99-118;
Carol Dyhouse, Girls Growing up in Late Victorian and Edwardian London (London:
Routledge, 1981); Gorham, The Victorian Girl, 18-19, 78-79.
216
Anne Stott, ‘'A Singular Injustice Towards Women’: Hannah More, Evangelicalism and
Female Education’, in Women, Religion and Feminism in Britain, 1750-1900, ed. Sue
Morgan (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002).
217
Jane Nardin, ‘Hannah More and the Rhetoric of Educational Reform’, Women's History
Review 10, no. 2 (2001): 211-228.
218
Gill, Women and the Church of England, 105-106.
219
Gorham, The Victorian Girl, 21, 22-24. Mary Sumner is in this category; Sumner, ‘Early
Life'.
214
61
the mid nineteenth century which she considers reflective of changing notions of
childhood and an increased emphasis on active mothering.220
Increasing literacy in men and women was reflected in the expansion of the mass
production of popular media.221 Knight, Morgan and Sarah C. Williams have
identified the prodigious amount of improving religious literature produced in the
period of interest to the thesis.222 Rebecca Styler has noted the use made by
women writers of secular material to communicate their ideas on religious
themes in a way which allowed them to circumvent the notion that authority in
theological matters was the province of men and by so doing construct female
religious identity.223 The thesis will locate Mary Sumner within this analysis as a
pamphleteer and writer of articles for the MU’s two journals.224 Styler’s
observations are exemplified by Charlotte Yonge whose work as a journalist,
novelist and writer for children, was motivated by her religious faith and belief in
the educational power of reading. Judith Rowbotham’s identification of the role of
fiction in reinforcing gendered notions of ‘good’ womanhood is demonstrated in
Charlotte Yonge’s heroines who exemplify feminine piety in their moral scruples,
self-restraint and self-sacrifice in the interest of home duty.225 Moruzi also
addresses the theme of reading and scrutinises Charlotte Yonge’s response to the
widely held concern that reading inappropriate material might corrupt innocence,
a view that the thesis will explore in Mary Sumner’s MU membership card.226
220
Gorham, The Victorian Girl, 65-80.
Richard D. Altick, The English Common Reader: A Social History of the Mass Reading
Public, 1800-1900 (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1998); David Vincent, Literacy
and Popular Culture: England 1750-1914 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989).
222
Knight, The Nineteenth Century Church, 37; Sarah C. Williams, ‘‘Is There a Bible in the
House?' Gender Religion and Family Culture’, in Women, Gender and Religious Cultures in
Britain, 1800-1940, ed. Morgan and de Vries (London: Routledge, 2011), 23. Williams
notes 'a burgeoning mass market of commercial religious publication'.
223
Rebecca Styler, The Contexts of Women's Literary Theology in the Nineteenth Century
(Farnham: Ashgate, 2010), 3-18.
224
Moyse, History of the Mothers' Union.
225
Judith Rowbotham, Good Girls Make Good Wives: Guidance for Girls in Victorian Fiction
(Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1989).
226
Moruzi, ‘'Never Read Anything That Can at All Unsettle Your Religious Faith': Reading
and Writing in the Monthly Packet.’; Sumner, Home Life, 6. Member's Card Rule 5 'Be
careful that your children do not read bad books or police reports'.
221
62
Sarah Delamont notes the pervasive influence of a gendered domestic ideology in
informing notions of appropriate curricula for girls227 and Gorham observes that
even after the expansion of more intellectually aspirational schooling for girls that
developed from the 1860s, the rationale for and rhetoric of, girls’ education
continued to legitimise education as preparation for women’s mission as good
wives and mothers. 228 Bush draws attention to conservative anti-feminist women,
including Louise Creighton of the MU and GFS, validating aspirations to
intellectual activity and university access for women, as a means to enhance
spiritual identities and abilities within the distinctive sphere of womanhood.229
Access to education was also mediated by class. Knight has noted the Anglican
Church as a key provider of education and the provision of schools an outlet for
philanthropy and suggests that religious education was drawn on in the interests
of securing social compliance.230 Similarly, June Purvis understands Sunday
schools as a mechanism for the social control of the working classes and Meg
Gomersall identifies class as a determining factor in the educational experience of
girls.231
The theme of compliance and the knowledge deemed appropriate for certain
categories of people is made in relation to gender by Burstyn, who points to the
ambivalence amongst Anglican clergy to women’s aspirations for education.
Whilst it was seen as desirable for women to be educated to support domestic
roles, too much intellectual knowledge was thought to compromise femininity
and challenge the paternal authority vested in Church and family.232 Gill sees this
anti-intellectualism reflected in the novels of Charlotte Yonge and in the MU
227
Sara Delamont, ‘The Domestic Ideology and Women’s Education’, in The NineteenthCentury Woman: Her Cultural and Physical World, ed. Sara Delamont and Lorna Duffin
(London Croom Helm, 1978).
228
Gorham, The Victorian Girl, 105-109.
229
Julia Bush, ‘‘Special Strengths for Their Own Special Duties’: Women, Higher Education
and Gender Conservatism in Late Victorian Britain’, History of Education 34, no. 4 (2005):
387-405.
230
Knight, The Nineteenth Century Church, 191.
231
Meg Gomersall, Working-Class Girls in Nineteenth-Century England: Life, Work and
Schooling (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1997); June Purvis, A History of Women's Education in
England (Milton Keynes: Open University Press, 1991), 16-18.
232
Burstyn, Victorian Education, 99; See also Gorham, The Victorian Girl, 101-105.
63
publication MIC,233 which Moyse attributes to a reluctance to engage in matters of
theology as the province of masculine clerical authority.234
Not all denominations were uncomfortable with women’s intellectual activity.
Quakers and Unitarians both acknowledged the mental abilities of women.235
Plant claims ‘Unitarians occupied a foremost place in positing new ideas about the
equal intellectual capabilities of women and men and advocating a liberal, rational
education for both sexes’.236 However Unitarians were in accord with Anglicans
and the durable influence of Hannah More’s 1799 Strictures on the Modern
System of Female Education,237 in conceptualising this as being within the
contemporary social roles occupied by women within the family.238
The negotiation of the obstacles and possibilities presented by a tradition of
emphasis on women’s education in relation to domesticity and mothering is a
connecting theme addressed by Mary Hilton and Pam Hirsch, and Jane Martin and
Goodman in their attention to the achievements of women educators.239 Aiston
suggests that by virtue of their exclusion from most formal educational structures
women’s educational activism was realised through a range of ‘extra institutional’
initiatives, a perspective that the thesis will apply to Mary Sumner.240
Existing literature indicates that the exercise of philanthropy may be interpreted
as a category of educational practice. It affirms religion as informative of
233
Gill, Women and the Church of England, 116-118; Prochaska, Women and Philanthropy
also notes the suspicion of intellectual activity on the part of women as likely to
undermine domestic harmony.
234
Moyse, History of the Mothers' Union, 19, 58-59.
235
Camilla Leach, ‘Quaker Women and Education from the Late Eighteenth Century to the
Mid- Nineteenth Century' (PhD thesis King Alfred’s College University of Southampton,
2003); Gleadle, The Early Feminists: Radical Unitarians and the Emergence of the Women's
Rights Movements, 1831-51; Watts, Gender, Power and the Unitarians in England, 17601860. Quakers were distinctive in acknowledging the religious ministry of women.
236
Plant, ‘'Ye Are All One in Christ Jesus': Aspects of Unitarianism and Feminism in
Birmingham, c. 1869–90’, 722.
237
H. More, Strictures on the Modern System of Female Education: With a View of the
Principles and Conduct Prevalent among Women of Rank and Fortune (Printed for T.
Cadell, Jun. and W. Davies, in the Strand, 1799).
238
Watts, Gender, Power and the Unitarians in England, 1760-1860, 8; Gleadle, The Early
Feminists: Radical Unitarians and the Emergence of the Women's Rights Movements,
1831-51, 4, 24, 97.
239
Mary Hilton and Pam Hirsch, eds., Practical Visionaries Women, Education and Social
Progress 1790-1930 (Harlow: Pearson, 2000); Martin and Goodman, Women and
Education, 1800-1980.
240
Aiston, ‘Women, Education and Agency 1600-2000 an Historical Perspective’, 2-5.
64
gendered identity and of educational practice and raises questions concerning the
relationship of religious educational initiatives to agendas of social control
mediated by both class and gender. Conversely educational religious philanthropy
may represent opportunity for empowerment.241 Morgan sees education as:
A major vehicle through which nineteenth-century religious women could
seek to achieve social, moral and political transformation, particularly the
achievement of a rational education for women that might better equip
them for the vital responsibilities of motherhood and citizenship.242
The thesis considers Mary Sumner in relation to the theme of education in line
with Morgan’s analysis.
Conclusion
The literature examined identifies references to Mary Sumner in the context of
the MU in relation to philanthropy and mission. She has been associated with
spiritual womanhood, discourses of motherhood and with religion as a mediating
element in gendered identity. Mary Sumner’s location, adjacent to authoritative
figures within the Church of England and association with an upper class social
milieu, suggest she is a fitting agent for consideration in the context of networks
and that she is representative of class as a mediating factor in opportunity. She
has been associated with themes in a tradition of scholarly enquiry into
empowerment and constraint that seeks to understand the negotiation of agency
against a horizon of possibilities mediated by class, gender and religion.
Literature directly relating to Mary Sumner acknowledges her emphasis on
mothers as moral exemplars but allows for further investigation into her views on
the purposes of education and the relationship of religious education to social
stratification. Her experience of education and its relationship to the contextual
characteristics of the period also presents an opportunity for analysis. In particular
Mary Sumner’s views on the nature of childhood and pedagogy have received
little attention. The thesis will explore Mary Sumner as a popular educator and
241
Knight, The Nineteenth Century Church, 191; Mumm, ‘Women and Philanthropic
Cultures’.
242
Morgan, Women, Religion and Feminism, 5.
65
will seek to locate her educational ideas in context and to analyse the strategies
she deployed in the dissemination of her educational message. The thesis will also
examine Mary Sumner’s notions of the educated Christian woman in relation to
nation, ‘race’ and empire. In addressing the gaps in existing literature this thesis:

Puts Mary Sumner at the centre and locates her values, aims and activism
in the context of networks of other agents and associations both formal
and informal.

Envisages religion as a socio-cultural construct, related to sites of power
and permeably informative of assumptions of value and belief and
contingent understandings of and hierarchies of, knowledge.

Sees religion as mediating of authority, identity and opportunity and
relates religion to education, gender, class and race/nation.

Deploys a lens of gender to analyse of the construction of identities and
the negotiation of agency in relation to the themes of religion, mission
and education.

Regards Mary Sumner as a popular educator according to a definition of
education that encompasses philanthropy and the dissemination of
materials exercised with the intention to change behaviour amongst the
populace.

Locates Mary Sumner within a framework that seeks to draw on
Bourdieu’s theoretical stance and methodological approach, to theorise
the upholding and transaction of power through an analysis which draws
on horizons of opportunity, claims to authority and strategic manoeuvres
66
in the negotiation of agency across the gendered themes of religion,
mission and education in local, national and transnational space.
67
Chapter 2 - Theoretical Stance and
Methodological Approach: the Conceptual Tools
of Pierre Bourdieu
Introduction
The literature examined in the previous chapter highlights the dualities of
constraint and agency as a theme of enquiry in seeking to understand women’s
lives in the period covered by the thesis. This theme will be applied to Mary
Sumner. The literature also suggests that identity and action are negotiated in
relation to other agents and to social structures in which power is invested, such
as the family, religion and education. This chapter examines Pierre Bourdieu’s
conceptual tools as an approach to the analysis of the interplay of agents and
structures, as they played out for Mary Sumner in terms of identity, authority and
agency.1 The chapter relates Bourdieu’s conceptual tools to the socio-cultural
fields of religion, mission (including philanthropic activity) and education, which
are understood as structuring locations in which power is invested and
negotiated.2 It argues that Bourdieu’s conceptual tools can be applied to locate an
individual life trajectory within networks of agents and structures.3 Bourdieu’s
analysis also encompasses class and gender as socially constructed mediators of
identity and opportunity.4 The chapter will demonstrate how Bourdieu’s
conceptual tools will be operationalized to analyse spheres of action and
1
Bourdieu and Wacquant, An Invitation, 7-26.This work explains agency as infomed by
dispositions of habitus (probabilities of behaviour informed by circumstantial influences)
and negotiated within fields (social structures). Capital concerns the 'assets' agents in
fields have at their disposal.
2
Bourdieu, ‘Genesis and Structure of the Religious Field’, 112-126. Appendix; Remarks on
the Economy of the Church, 124-126 ; Practical Reason: On the Theory of Action
(Cambridge: Polity Press, 1998); Terry Rey, Bourdieu on Religion: Imposing Faith and
Legitimacy (London: Equinox, 2007); Pierre Bourdieu and Jean-Claude Passeron,
Reproduction in Education, Society and Culture (London: Sage, 1990).
3
Pierre Bourdieu, ‘The Biographical Illusion’, in Identity: A Reader ed. Paul Du Gay, Jessica
Evans and Peter Redman (London: Sage, 2000).
4
Bourdieu and Passeron, Reproduction; Pierre Bourdieu, Masculine Domination
(Cambridge: Polity Press, 2001). Gender and class are seen by Bourdieu as mediating of
advantage and bound up with dominaton; Toril Moi, 'What Is a Woman?' And Other
Essays (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999); Beate Krais, ‘Gender and Symbolic
Violence: Female Oppression in the Light of Pierre Bourdieu's Theory of Social Practice’, in
Bourdieu: Critical Perspectives, ed. Craig Calhoun, Edward LiPuma and Moishe Postone
(Cambridge: Cambridge Polity Press, 1993 ).
68
networks of association and authority in relation to Mary Sumner and the
(gendered) socio-cultural themes of religion, mission and education.
Pierre Bourdieu: theory, practice and epistemological
position
Pierre Bourdieu’s ideas were initially framed within the disciplines of
anthropology and sociology, drawing upon the work of Weber, Durkheim and
Marx on the objective structures of society.5 In particular the ideas of Marx were a
stimulus towards Bourdieu’s conception of an economy of symbolic ‘goods’.6 As
an anthropologist Bourdieu was also responsive to, but also critical of, LeviStrauss’s ideas concerning the generating rules of the structures in society. He
also reacted against the existentialism of Sartre as inadequate in accounting for
the objective structural realities and the pragmatism inherent in the negotiation
of the social world.7
Bourdieu was influenced by Merleau-Ponty’s ideas on understanding the social
world as inscribed and embodied in persons,8 and drew on the ideas of Gaston
Bachelard concerning the contextual relation of epistemology in time and space
and in the location of the thinker.9 Ervin Goffman’s notions of dramaturgy, which
concern self-presentation by the individual as mediated by the situations in which
they are located, also influenced Bourdieu’s understanding of the transaction
between the person and social structures.10
Bourdieu’s quest to understand agents in relation to social situations led him to
consider how persons acquire their sense of knowing the social world; their
beliefs, motivation, opportunities and negotiation of life chances. He also wanted
5
Richard Jenkins, Pierre Bourdieu (London: Routledge, 1992), 18, 19.
Bourdieu and Passeron, Reproduction, 183; Pierre Bourdieu, The Field of Cultural
Production: Essays on Art and Literature (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1993), 74-76. The
symbolic economy in which assets are accumulated and exchanged for advantage will
recieve further elaboration in later paragraphs.
7
Michael Grenfell and Cheryl Hardy, Art Rules: Pierre Bourdieu and the Visual Arts (Oxford:
Berg, 2007), 21-23.
8
Ibid., 25.
9
Ibid., 27.
10
Jenkins, Pierre Bourdieu, 19.
6
69
to account for the durability of social structures which may serve to uphold the
interests of some groups to the disadvantage of others. This led Bourdieu to
envisage power and authority as vested both in persons and social structures
(institutions). His theoretical position on how power is upheld and transacted
suggests that individuals, organisations or interest groups seek to maintain
dominance.11
Bourdieu’s conceptual tools: habitus, field and capital
Bourdieu describes his approach as ‘a philosophy of action’ which is ‘condensed in
a small number of fundamental concepts - habitus, field, [and] capital and at its
cornerstone is the two way relationship between objective structures (those of
social fields) and incorporated structures (those of habitus)’.12 This overcomes
simplistic oppositions of freedom or constraint and dominance or submission and
will be applied to analyse how Mary Sumner occupied and negotiated these
different positions.13
The category of capital pertains to valued attributes, their deployment and
negotiation towards securing advantage. Bourdieu makes frequent use of the
analogy of game playing when explaining his ideas and theoretical interpretation
of how society works.14 This encapsulates his interest in agents as ‘players’ who
seek advantage (capital) on the (structural) field of play within the constraints of
the ‘rules of the game’. This will also form an aspect in analysis of the assets and
strategies that Mary Sumner drew upon in forwarding her aims.
Habitus concerns the subjective understanding of social reality vested in the
‘player’ or collectively in ‘players’ that informs practice. Habitus can be related
tothose unthinkingly assumed habits of mind that the individual acquires through
socialisation within their contextual back ground. Habitus concerns the practical,
situational negotiation of life. For Bourdieu, the concept of habitus was intended
to:
11
Bourdieu and Passeron, Reproduction: x-xii, 31-32, 38-39, 10-11.
Bourdieu, Practical Reason, vii.
13
Bourdieu and Wacquant, An Invitation, 23-24.
14
Ibid., 98-100.
12
70
... account for practice in its humblest forms - rituals, matrimonial choices,
the mundane economic conduct of everyday life, etc. - by escaping both the
objectivism of action understood as mechanical reaction “without an
agent” and the subjectivism which portrays action as the deliberate pursuit
of a conscious intention, the free project of a conscience positing its own
ends and maximising its utility through rational computation.15
Habitus implies an accumulation of collective understandings/assumptions, which
are durable dispositions that are embodied in individuals or collectively.16
Bourdieu uses the terms ‘doxa’ and ‘doxic relations’ to explain the embodiment of
social and cultural messages and practices within habitus. Doxa concerns the
apparent self-evidence of social reality which in its habitual familiarity goes
unquestioned.17 Habitus is generative of dispositions in that it structures and
normalises unconscious assumptions of how the world is and thus orientates the
agent towards interpretation of the social world. Habitus informs logical
preferences for action against culturally historically determined possibilities,18 and
is a ‘practical sense of the game’.19
Habitus does not rule out a measure of calculation of opportunity but this is
defined in relation to the structuring perception of the habitus itself which
predisposes the agent towards the recognition of horizons of possibility and likely
outcomes of certain choices.20 However, Bourdieu refutes claims that this is a
deterministic view.21 He insists that habitus is not merely passively received social
inheritance, for the dispositions thus acquired by the individual (despite their
durability and the tendency of experience to affirm them) allows for ‘regulated
improvisation’.22 Bourdieu considers that there may be times when (possibly
extreme) circumstances cause a ‘break’ or époque in the apparent self-evidence
of the doxa:23
15
Ibid., 121.
Pierre Bourdieu, The Logic of Practice (Cambridge: Polity, 1990), 53, 54.
17
Ibid., 20.
18
Bourdieu and Passeron, Reproduction, 95; Bourdieu and Wacquant, An Invitation, 124.
19
An Invitation, 120; Bourdieu, Logic of Practice, 66.
20
Logic of Practice, 53.
21
Bourdieu and Wacquant, An Invitation, 131.
22
Bourdieu, Logic of Practice, 57.
23
Jeremy F. Lane, Pierre Bourdieu: A Critical Introduction (London: Pluto, 2000), 194.
16
71
Habitus is not the fate that some people read into it. Being the product of
history, it is an open system of dispositions that is constantly subject to
experiences and therefore constantly affected by them in a way that
reinforces or modifies its structures.24
The significance of habitus is its mediating function between the individual and
the structures in social reality, which exists in time and place, as well as inside and
outside agents. Habitus is ontologically specific, being realised through
individuals, yet epistemologically generalisable to social and cultural structures. It
is relational as well as mediating. It concerns where one is in time, space and
circumstances, who one knows and what one thinks proper or possible. This
acknowledges a ‘knowing subject’ within what Morwenna Griffiths, in her
assertion of the significance of the multiple influences, contexts and relationships
in the establishment of identity, has conceived of as a cultural ‘web’.25 Sources
concerning Mary Sumner’s religious upbringing, education and experience of
family relationships and married life will be drawn upon to inform discussion of
her horizons of possibility and dispositions of habitus. Her social status and
relationships and clerical and philanthropic networks will also be considered in
relation to identifying attributes/practices of the wider group habitus in which she
was located.
Field ‘may be defined as a network, or a configuration, of objective relations
between positions’.26 It is a structured system of social relations that exist in
relation to one another. Field and habitus are connected, as Wacquant explains:
Habitus and field designate bundles of relations. A field consists of a set of
objective, historical relations anchored in certain forms of power (or
capital) while habitus consists of a set of historical relations “deposited”
within individual bodies in the form of mental and corporeal schemata of
perception, appreciation and action.27
Bourdieu claims that: ‘To think in terms of field is to think relationally’ and
‘what exist in the social world are relations’.28
24
Bourdieu and Wacquant, An Invitation, 133.
Morwenna Griffiths, Feminisms and the Self: The Web of Identity (London: Routledge,
1995).
26
Bourdieu and Wacquant, An Invitation, 97.
27
Ibid., 16.
28
Ibid., 96, 97.
25
72
Habitus is related to fields because fields structure the location in which identity is
established and agency is enacted. Fields mediate between the practices of the
participants and their social and economic context and are consequently sites of
cultural engagement and differentiation. Fields relate to political, economic,
cultural and educational arenas in which social processes are structured.29 Many
fields are interrelated and fields may have sub fields within them.30 A defining
characteristic of fields, if the game analogy is pursued, is that the players have a
common tacit belief in the game ‘a recognition that escapes questioning’.31 This
recognition is constitutive of the boundaries of the field which is the sum of what
is valued within it.32
Fields are locations for the production of value, knowledge or symbolic goods,33 in
doing so they also determine practice.34 Fields assert value for the purpose of
legitimising and upholding their ascendancy and in so doing, fields construct an
epistemology of social reality, that is what counts as value and what ‘is’.35 They
concern, as Helen Gunter notes ‘the struggle for and rival claims to truth’.36 Fields
determine who and what is within them.37 They are sites for the acquisition of
advantages and of competition for them.38
The thesis locates Mary Sumner within the field of religion through her activism
on behalf of the Anglican Church, whether through parochial work in support of
her husband, or through organisations such as the Church of England Temperance
Society (CETS), the GFS or the MU. She will be associated through her kin and
social contacts to those with high status within the Anglican Church, a dominant
presence in the field of religion. Mary Sumner will also be located in the field of
29
Gunter, Leaders and Leadership in Education, 13.’Social processes are structured by a
hierarchy of fields: political field, economic field, cultural field and education and so
positions and positioning is about domination, subordination, or equivalence.’
30
Bourdieu and Wacquant, An Invitation, 108.
31
Ibid., 98; Bourdieu, Logic of Practice, 67-68.
32
Logic of Practice, 58.
33
The Field of Cultural Production, 78, 121.
34
Gunter, Leaders and Leadership in Education, 13.
35
Grenfell and Hardy, Art Rules, 29.
36
Helen M. Gunter, ‘Purposes and Positions in the Field of Education Management.’
Educational Management Administration and Leadership 30 no.1 (2002), 11.
37
Bourdieu, Logic of Practice, 68.
38
Moishe Postone, Edward Li Puma and Craig J. Calhoun, ‘Introduction’, in Bourdieu:
Critical Perspectives, ed. Calhoun, Li Puma and Postone (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1993),
10.
73
education through her engagement in disseminating religious knowledge via her
publications for the MU, her engagement in parish educational initiatives and
involvement in the CETS and GFS, all of which aimed to inculcate religious values.
Her male relatives connect her by association to the fields of political power (her
father-in-law as a bishop sat in the House of Lords) and economic power (her
father was a retired banker and landowner).
In seeking to explain how power is upheld and transacted within fields, Bourdieu
uses the term capital in relation to transactions of value and the pursuit of
advantage in the field. The notion of symbolic capital expands on a market
analogy from Marxist theory to suggest that capital allows the possession or
acquisition of that which is perceived to have a value.39 Despite acknowledging his
appropriation of economic terminology Bourdieu refutes a classical economic
Marxist model of capital because he considers it fails to acknowledge attributes
other than material goods that may accrue from, and be transacted for,
advantage.40
Capital and field are mutually constituting and relational. Capital consists of
attributes individuals (and groups) seek to acquire. It refers to those qualities and
credentials that are valued in the field and are recognised as accruing advantages
(power) to the players of the game.41 Bourdieu deploys the concept of distinction
to conceptualise the ascription of value to (arbitrary) qualities, attributes and
forms of knowledge.42 It is the field itself that defines and legitimises those assets
that will be valued and what constitutes distinction within it. The assets
acknowledged within it are constitutive of the field itself. For Bourdieu possession
of capital by an individual agent relates to indices of ‘the value set on him, which
defines what he is entitled to [...] the (hierarchized) goods he may appropriate or
the strategies he can adopt’.43 So an agent recognised for possetion of capital
within the field may bear ‘marks of distinction’.44 Moreover, position in the field
39
Grenfell and James, Bourdieu and Education, 20.
Bourdieu and Wacquant, An Invitation, 119.
41
Ibid., 99.
42
Pierre Bourdieu, Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste (London:
Routledge and Kegan Paul 1984).
43
Bourdieu, Logic of Practice, 139.
44
The Field of Cultural Production, 117.
40
74
will possibly define the capital of an individual or group and affects dispositions
(habitus) and opportunities for its further acquisition.45
Bourdieu presents capital as being of three basic forms.46 These are economic,
cultural and social but he states ‘we must add symbolic capital which is the form
one or another of these species takes when it is grasped through categories of
perception that recognize its specific logic or, if you prefer misrecognise the
arbitrariness of its possession and accumulation’.47 Symbolic capital is that which
is likely to accrue prestige and social honour.48
Economic capital is the most material and least symbolic for it appertains to
financial wealth. Economic capital may be advantageous towards securing other
kinds of capital but does not necessarily equate to the possession of cultural
capital.49 Bourdieu defines cultural capital as varieties of legitimate knowledge. It
would be possible to have power in the economic field but to be perceived,
according to the logic of other fields, as lacking the cultural capital recognised as
prestigious in education, taste or forms of behaviour.50
Bourdieu subdivides cultural capital into embodied, objectified or
institutionalised.51 Embodied capital is that which is vested in agents. It could
appertain to attributes such as piety, taste or being ‘of good family’ for which the
agent may receive recognition and secure advantage. Embodied attributes such as
gender or ‘race’ may serve to mediate capital. Objectified capital is associated
with prestigious things invested with meaning and value as in the case of art
works.52 Institutionalised capital is vested in structures or in organisations such as
45
Grenfell and Hardy, Art Rules, 31. Capital is symptomatic of field positioning according to
a hierarchy logically defined by the field.
46
Bourdieu and Passeron, Reproduction. This work, published in French in 1970 and in
English in 1977, was Bourdieu's first use of linguistic capital and cultural capital
understood as relating to legitimate knowledge. Bourdieu has since identified further
kinds of capital; Pierre Bourdieu, Language and Symbolic Power (Cambridge: Polity Press,
1991). First published in France 1982 this work identifies symbolic, social, economic,
personal, political, linguistic and cultural capital.
47
Bourdieu and Wacquant, An Invitation, 119.
48
Jenkins, Pierre Bourdieu, 85.
49
Ibid., 113.
50
Bourdieu, The Field of Cultural Production, 3, 39, 68; Practical Reason, 19.
51
Bourdieu and Wacquant, An Invitation, 119.
52
Grenfell and Hardy, Art Rules, 30.
75
educational institutions or religious bodies which have the authority to bestow
advantage or prestige.
Social capital refers to the sum of the resources and networks of personal
relations, acquaintance and recognition which an individual connects.53 Social
capital concerns lasting relations in a sphere of contact.54 High social capital is
characterised by relations with significant others who are bearers of status.55
Examples of social capital could be popularity, ‘good breeding’ and respectability.
Capital is symbolic not just because it can designate non material attributes such
as reputation but because it works through a process of acknowledgement and
recognition of what Bourdieu terms the imposed cultural arbitrary which is
perceived as legitimate and which will be discussed in the next section. Attributes
may be intangible, such as in the case of piety, as designated with the religious
field, but have exchange value as they are recognised in the field as having worth
or securing advantage.56 Capital is transferable from one field to another. A key
aspect of the thesis is to identify Mary Sumner’s capital and to explore how it was
transacted and accumulated in relation to her activism.
Education, symbolic violence, the cultural arbitrary and
pedagogic work
Bourdieu’s interest in the transmission of culture and the durability of social
structures and advantage vested in certain groups, led him to engage with
epistemology and to investigate the construction and status of knowledge.
Stimulated by his own location as an academic, Bourdieu identified education as a
significant mode of cultural transmission and mediator of social advantage.
Education and pedagogy have been addressed by Bourdieu in a number of works
53
Bourdieu and Wacquant, An Invitation, 119.
Grenfell and James, Bourdieu and Education, 20-21.
55
Jenkins, Pierre Bourdieu, 121.
56
Beverly Skeggs, ‘Exchange, Value and Affect: Bourdieu and ‘the Self’’, in Feminism after
Bourdieu, ed. Linda Adkins and Beverly Skeggs (Oxford: Blackwell, 2004).
54
76
notably Reproduction in Education and Society.57 His interest extends to education
both via formal systems and informal means for the construction and
transmission of legitimate knowledge and to the relationship these have to social
reproduction.58
Bourdieu drew from empirical research into the relationship of scholastic
attainment and social factors within the French education system, to inform the
theory of symbolic violence and the concept of the cultural arbitrary, outlined in
Reproduction in Education and Society. Bourdieu also identified the concepts of
pedagogic work, pedagogic action and pedagogic authority. Although initially
framed in the context of and applied to, a formal education system, Bourdieu sees
these concepts as applicable to ‘any social formation, understood as a system of
power relations and sense relations between groups or classes’.59
Pedagogic action refers to action towards inculcating notions of value, belief, or
preferred knowledge encapsulated in Bourdieu’s concept of the cultural arbitrary.
Pedagogic work is the longer term inculcation of the cultural arbitrary; its product
is a durable transposable habitus,60 achieved ‘without resorting to external
repression or, in particular, physical coercion’.61 Pedagogic action and pedagogic
work cannot be accomplished without pedagogic authority. Pedagogic authority,
which is contested in field manoeuvres that deploy capital to assert legitimacy, is
invested in those who are recognised or misrecognised as agents authorised to
speak on behalf of, and invested with the authority accruing to, the group or
institution whose cultural arbitrary they wish to enforce through pedagogic
action.62
57
Bourdieu and Passeron, Reproduction. Other major works on education include La
Misere Du Monde (Paris: Seuil, 1993); Homo Academicus [in Translation from the French.]
(Cambridge: Polity Press in association with Basil Blackwell, 1988).
58
Gunter, Leaders and Leadership in Education. Gunter applies Bourdieu's analytical tools
to theorising leadership. For an example of the deployment of Bourdieu’s analytical tools
to analyse education that also deals with gender see Diane Reay, ‘Cultural Reproduction:
Mothers’ Involvement in Their Children’s Primary School Education’, in Bourdieu and
Education: Acts of Practical Theory, ed. Michael Grenfell and David James (London Falmer
Press, 1998).
59
Bourdieu and Passeron, Reproduction, 4.
60
Ibid., 31-54.
61
Ibid., 36.
62
Ibid., 11-31.
77
For Bourdieu all culture (systems of symbolism and meaning) is arbitrary. In one
sense culture is arbitrary because there are no underlying objective principles to
be found in culture; it is the accumulated sum of the practices of a group over
time and owes its existence to the social conditions that produced it:63
The selection of meanings which objectively defines a group’s or a class’s
culture as a symbolic system is arbitrary in so far as the structure and
functions of that culture cannot be deduced from any universal principle,
whether physical, biological or spiritual, not being linked by any sort of
internal relation to ‘the nature of things’ or any ‘human nature’.64
Culture is also arbitrary in that it is an imposition, which rests ultimately on force
(albeit symbolic), of the values and meanings of the dominating group. It serves to
sustain and reproduce their position of domination. Bourdieu claims ‘every
established order tends to the naturalisation of its own arbitrariness’ through the
assertion of its self-defined attribution of value and in a stable society this is
misrecognised as self-evident:65
In any given formation the cultural arbitrary of the group in the dominant
position is the one which most fully though always indirectly expresses the
objective interests (material and symbolic) of the dominant groups or
classes.66
Bourdieu refers to this as symbolic violence which disguises the arbitrary nature
of domination by presenting it as legitimate:67
The conservation of the social order is decisively [...] reinforced by [...] the
orchestration of categories of perception in the social world which being
adjusted to the divisions of the established order, (and therefore to the
interests of those who dominate it) and common to all minds structured in
accordance with those structures, impose themselves with all appearances
of objective necessity.68
Symbolic violence only acts on social agents with their complicity. Through the
effects of pedagogic work and pedagogic action they are habituated towards
unthinking recognition or misrecognition of the authority of the dominating
63
Bourdieu and Passeron, Reproduction, 8.
Ibid.
65
Pierre Bourdieu, Outline of a Theory of Practice (Cambridge: University Press, 1979), 164.
66
Bourdieu and Passeron, Reproduction, 9.
67
Ibid., 5.
68
Bourdieu, Distinction, 471.
64
78
structure.69 Thus the dominated may uphold those structures which dominate
them because they acknowledge the dominating authority as legitimate. They
misrecognise the arbitrary nature of the legitimising values of the dominating
structure. The complicity of the dominated is reinforced by offering rewards such
as material, cultural or social advantage. These are capital assets asserted through
pedagogic action which the dominating majority has the power to award. Yet,
domination is not merely power over a given group. ‘The violence is symbolic
because, it is a relationship of meaning between individuals in which
(mis)recognition of legitimacy ensures the persistence of power’.70 It is also the
case that those exercising domination do so because they also misrecognise its
arbitrary nature. Bourdieu sees every pedagogic action as an act of symbolic
violence in that it seeks to impose the cultural arbitrary. For Bourdieu, pedagogic
action functions in three modes; family education and diffuse education (which
are acquired by interaction with socially competent members within a social
context) and institutionalised education (which is acquired by the pedagogic
action of structures and organisations). The rites of the Church, such as
confirmation or marriage, which Mary Sumner advocated, may be conceived of as
institutional education. The success of pedagogic action lies in its ability to
reproduce and endorse the dominant culture.71
The thesis applies these concepts to Mary Sumner. It argues that she was, as in
the case of all social agents, a recipient of pedagogic action through her family
and social context. As an upholder of a socially stratified society and the values of
the Church of England she was habituated by pedagogic work to aspects of the
cultural arbitrary. She was also a pedagogic actor in her strategies for the
promotion of religious values and behaviour, which drew together family
education and institutional education. Analysing the assets and attributes that
allowed her pedagogic authority is a central concern of this thesis.
69
Bourdieu and Wacquant, An Invitation, 162.
Frank Poupeau, ‘Reasons for Domination: Bourdieu Versus Habermas’, in Reading
Bourdieu on Society and Culture, ed. Bridget Fowler (Oxford Blackwell, 2000), 71, 72.
71
Bourdieu and Passeron, Reproduction, 5-10.
70
79
Bourdieu: language and religion
In Reproduction in Education and Society and in Language and Symbolic Power
Bourdieu refers to linguistic capital and explains his understanding of language as
both a product of and a medium for social interaction, that must be considered in
relation to its context and the circumstances of its production. Agents may be
bearers of linguistic capital and located within a linguistic habitus which may or
may not accord with the ‘code’ prioritised by perpetrators of the cultural
arbitrary.72 Fields may prioritise particular varieties of linguistic capital that can be
used for differentiation and for the reproduction of a cultural arbitrary.73 As such,
language is a medium for symbolic violence and the dispositions of habitus allow
this to be misrecognised.74 Bourdieu associates language with pedagogic
authority, ‘the power of words is nothing other than the delegated power of the
spokesperson and his speech - that is the substance of his discourse [...] is
testimony to the guarantee of delegation which is vested in him’.75 The notion
that by using legitimised language the speaker claims (and thereby gains)
legitimisation as having the right to speak and for the authority of the message
will be applied to Mary Sumner’s use of the rhetoric of motherhood and religion.
Bourdieu’s attention to religion is contained within a selection of articles and
chapters.76 In ‘Genesis and Structure of the Religious Field’, Bourdieu includes
religion within the definition of a field and extends his definition of capital to
include religious capital.77 For Bourdieu religious capital, which he terms the
‘goods of salvation’, includes the sacraments and a sense of legitimisation and
72
Bourdieu and Wacquant, An Invitation, 184-189.
Bourdieu and Passeron, Reproduction, See Chapter 1 'Cultural Capital and Pedagogic
Communication', 71-106 and Chapter 2, 'The Literate Tradition and Social Conservation',
107-139.
74
Bourdieu, Language and Symbolic Power, 'The Production and Reproduction of
Legitimate Language', 43-65.
75
Ibid., 107.
76
‘Legitimation and Structured Interest in Weber's Sociology of Religion’, in Max Weber,
Rationality and Modernity, ed. Scott Lash and Sam Whimster (London: Allen and Unwin,
1987), 119-136; ‘Genesis and Structure of the Religious Field'; ‘Authorised Language: The
Social Conditions for the Effectiveness of Ritual Discourse’, in Language and Symbolic
Power (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1991).
77
‘Genesis and Structure of the Religious Field'.
73
80
non-material well being acquired through membership of a recognised
congregation which promises salvation.78 This understanding is also developed in
‘The Laughter of Bishops’ and ‘On the Economy of the Church’ in Practical
Reason.79 The chapter ‘Authorised Language: The Social Conditions for the
Effectiveness of Ritual Discourse’ in Language and Symbolic Power draws on
religious terminology to assert the notion of consecrated language in a discussion
of the authorisation of discourse.80 Bourdieu asserts that:
Religious institutions work permanently, both practically and symbolically
to euphemise social relations, including relations of exploitation (as in the
family), by transfiguring them into relations of spiritual kinship or of
religious exchange [...] Exploitation is masked.81
In the religious field, Bourdieu believes competition is over the ownership of the
‘goods of salvation’ in that it seeks to inculcate in the practice and world view of
lay people a particular religious habitus.82 Rey’s interpretation is that religion
‘provides a way for the under-classes to make sense of their lot. Religion thus
contributes to the misrecognition of the social order as legitimate, although
religion can and at times does trigger major social change’.83 Krais similarly notes
that ‘religious specialists inculcate in the laity a religious habitus that permits
orthodoxy’s and the economic and political elite’s “misrecognized domination”’.84
Religious specialists create the illusion that elites are religious and therefore
moral and thus deserving of their power.85 Rey asserts the relationship of religion
to gender, ‘race’ and colonial conquest in his advocacy for the use of Bourdieu’s
thinking tools for analysis of institutional religion, which he sees as closely bound
up with class and the legitimisation of domination.86
78
Terry Rey, ‘Marketing the Goods of Salvation: Bourdieu on Religion’, Religion 34, no. 4
(2004), 337.
79
Bourdieu, Practical Reason, 112-126, Appendix: Remarks on the Economy of the Church,
124-126.
80
Language and Symbolic Power, 107-116.
81
Practical Reason, 117.
82
Bourdieu and Passeron, Reproduction; Bourdieu, Language and Symbolic Power, 126.
83
Rey, ‘Marketing the Goods of Salvation: Bourdieu on Religion’, 333.
84
Krais, ‘Gender and Symbolic Violence’, 177. [punctuation as source]
85
Rey, ‘Marketing the Goods of Salvation: Bourdieu on Religion’, 334.
86
Ibid.
81
Bourdieu: gender and class
Bourdieu’s Masculine Domination (2001),87 takes gender as its central subject.
Bourdieu is clear that gender is a site for the perpetuation of domination. The
asymmetry of status he ascribes to gender reveals his anthropological
perspective. Bourdieu maintains that women as a category are treated as objects
of symbolic exchange and invested with a symbolic function. As goods themselves
women are forced to preserve their symbolic value by conforming to male ideas.
‘The liberation of women must involve questioning the foundations of the
production of symbolic capital’.88 Bourdieu, like Morgan and Tosh,89 sees gender
as a construct embedded within the social field applicable to the categories of
‘men’ and ‘women’. He sees ‘men the dominant [...] equally constrained by the
roles and identities according to the dominant taxonomy, they were supposed to
incarnate’.90 Bourdieu considers masculine domination so structurally embedded
as to be misrecognised as the natural order:
… the concordance between the objective structures and the cognitive
structures, between the shape of being and the forms of knowledge [… ]
apprehends the social world and its arbitrary divisions, starting with the
socially constructed division between the sexes as natural, self-evident and
as such contains a full recognition of legitimacy.91
Despite critique by feminists, Bourdieu’s ideas have been drawn on by scholars
who acknowledge gender as a mediator of opportunity and a constituent aspect
of domination.92 Terry Lovell claims that Bourdieu over emphasises the durability
of the bodily inscription of the habitus, yet acknowledges that the durability of
structural domination may be usefully conceptualised with Bourdieu’s conceptual
87
Bourdieu, Masculine Domination.
Bourdieu and Wacquant, An Invitation, 174.
89
Morgan, ‘Theorising Feminist History: A Thirty Year Retrospective’; Tosh, A Man's Place:
Masculinity and the Middle-Class Home in Victorian England.
90
Lane, Pierre Bourdieu: A Critical Introduction, 133.
91
Bourdieu, Masculine Domination, 9.
92
Scott, ‘Gender: A Useful Category.’; Moi, What Is a Woman; Andrea Jacobs,
‘Examinations as Cultural Capital for the Victorian School Girl; Thinking with Bourdieu ‘
Women's History Review 16, no. 2 (2007): 245-261; Joyce Goodman and Jane Martin,
‘Networks after Bourdieu: Women, Education and Politics from the 1980s to the 1920s’,
History of Education Researcher 80, November (2007); Lisa Adkins and Beverley Skeggs,
Feminism after Bourdieu (Oxford: Blackwell, 2004); Beverly Skeggs, ‘Context and
Background: Pierre Bourdieu's Analysis of Class, Gender and Sexuality’, The Sociological
Review 52(2004): 19-34; Krais, ‘Gender and Symbolic Violence'; Reay, ‘Cultural
Reproduction: Mothers’ Involvement in Their Children’s Primary School Education'.
88
82
tools.93 Krais,94 and Moi,95 consider Bourdieu’s conceptual tools a means of
interrogating gender in relation to power and domination. According to Moi,
gender, like class, is a location for the exercise of symbolic violence. It can be
theorised in the same way as social class, as not a field in itself but as part of the
general social field. It is always a relevant factor but not always the most relevant.
Moi sees Bourdieu’s perspective as assuming gender as relational and carrying
varying amounts of social capital in different contexts.96 For Moi, although a
woman may lose some legitimacy through her gender, she may still have enough
capital to make an impact in the field.97 This is the case for example, when women
of high social capital engage in patronage and philanthropy, a category that will
be applied to Mary Sumner.
Bourdieu: life trajectory and networks
Bourdieu’s insistence that the life of an individual agent should be placed in
context, points to the significance of networks and prosopographical analysis. He
maintains agents can only be understood as social beings and refers to the
‘fallacy’ of biography that treats the individual as a singular detached case. 98 This
approach, therefore, fails to engage with the structural properties of the field and
its logic and claim to legitimacy that intersects with the habitus of the agent in
question to inform their horizon of possibilities. Bourdieu understands an agent to
be linked to the collection of other agents engaged in the same field and facing
the same realm of possibilities. Evidence relating to others of like habitus is
relevant to locating the agent in focus within and against the dominant doxa.
Bourdieu interprets biographical events as a life trajectory which he sees as a
‘series of successive locations, moves and field positions'.99 He describes this
process as social ageing which accompanies biological ageing. Biographical events,
93
Terry Lovell, ‘Thinking Feminism with and against Bourdieu’, in Reading Bourdieu on
Society and Culture, ed. Bridget Fowler (Oxford: Blackwell, 2000).
94
Krais, ‘Gender and Symbolic Violence’, 156.
95
Moi, What Is a Woman?, 269. 'Gender in his [Bourdieu's] thought is under theorised'.
See also Adkins and Skeggs, Feminism after Bourdieu.
96
Moi, What Is a Woman?, 291.
97
Ibid., 293.
98
Bourdieu, ‘The Biographical Illusion’, 304.
99
The Field of Cultural Production, 189.
83
locations and individual moves are not detached from structures or other
agents.100 This view supports an analysis of an agent that seeks, through
assembling and comparing evidence on agents sharing common characteristics, to
understand them relationally and in context and to illuminate values, attitudes
and meanings.101
Fuch’s identification of networks as concerned with the interplay of agents and
structures is compatible with Bourdieu’s understanding of social reality and his
notion of field,102 as illustrated in Goodman and Martin’s use of Bourdieu’s
conceptual tools to an analysis of intellectual exchange and the role and authority
of key women in relation to organisational networks in a wider political context.103
The thesis sees fields as having attributes compatible with formal networks as
described by Fuchs, who discusses the notions of power dependency and
exchange theory in relation to the analysis of networks. Power dependency sees
formal networks assert the legitimacy of the capital they possess in relation to
other structural sites of power. Exchange theory focuses on network collaboration
toward mutual advantage. 104
Bourdieu’s understanding of capital transactions within fields allows relations to
be dynamic and situational. The concept of reproduction acknowledges
competition towards domination but allows that agents or groups can collaborate
to promote their aims. This accommodates both the notion of power dependency
and of exchange and provides thinking tools that the thesis will deploy to
conceptualise, for example, the MU as authorised by bishops, or to explore the
potential mutual benefit to the MU and Anglican Church accrued via transactions
of capital in the pursuit of shared aims.
100
Bourdieu and Wacquant, An Invitation, 297-298.
Cunningham, ‘Innovators, Networks and Structures’; Bourdieu, The Field of Cultural
Production, 8, 180-181, 193.
102
Fuchs, ‘Networks’.
103
Goodman and Martin, ‘Networks after Bourdieu: Women, Education and Politics from
the 1980s to the 1920s’.
104
Fuchs, ‘Networks’.
101
84
Bourdieu: analysis and chapter structure
Bourdieu favours engagement with agents and structures historically situated. He
draws attention to the embedded historical aspect within habitus and fields105 and
considers that ‘the separation of sociology and history is a disastrous division and
one totally devoid of all epistemological justification: all sociology should be
historical and all history sociological’.106 His advocacy for a history ‘which finds in
each successive state of the structure under examination both the product of
previous struggles to maintain or to transform this structure and the principles,
via the contradiction, the tensions and the relations of force which constitute it, of
subsequent transformations’ is in other words a call to engage with change and
continuity.107 These concepts will be applied to an analysis of Mary Sumner’s life
and activism that seeks to engage with issues of constraint, agency and
empowerment.
Bourdieu’s theoretical notion that agents or structures seek to maintain
domination, that he expresses in the term reproduction, will frame analysis of
Mary Sumner as an advocate for the religious values of the Established Church. As
Mary Sumner conformed to and advocated religiously authorised notions of
behaviour framed by class and gender, notions of symbolic violence and
misrecognition will also frame analysis. Bourdieu suggests that the analysis of a
field which seeks to conceptualise the process of participation in and
reproduction and transformation of social systems and power could be
approached through the following operations:
1. Analyse the position of the field vis-à-vis the field of power.
2. Map out the objective structure of relations between the positions
occupied by agents who compete for legitimate forms of specific
authority of which the field is a site.
3. Analyse the habitus of agents; the systems of dispositions they have
acquired by internalizing a determinate type of social and economic
condition and which find in a definite trajectory within the field under
consideration a more or less favourable opportunity to become
actualised.108
105
Bourdieu and Wacquant, An Invitation, 124.
Ibid., 90.
107
Ibid., 91.
108
Bourdieu and Wacquant, An Invitation, 104-105.
106
85
The three level analytical steps noted above will be applied to Mary Sumner in
reverse order, moving broadly from informative habitus, horizons of possibility
and activism to an examination of agency and achievement in relation to
upholding or transforming the doxa and the interest of dominant groups. The
thesis will apply the above steps in chapters relating Mary Sumner to the themes
of religion, mission and education.
Analysis of Mary Sumner’s MU vis-à-vis the field of power is informed by the
following assumptions. The field of power is understood to relate to the apparatus
of government personified by the monarch as symbolic of the nation and empire.
Power implies political power in a broad sense but not exclusively so. The notion
of the field of power as power to dominate and reproduce (and enforce)
advantage overlaps with power in the economic field, the power of ownership
and the advantages e.g. political, cultural and educational that economic power
may be transacted towards. The Anglican Church has power to affect practice in
the religious field and also position in the field of education. It also has power in
the political field because as the Established Church is has representatives in the
legislature. Anglicanism is regarded as a major subfield in relation to the religious
field as a whole. In this thesis the MU as an organised official body representative
of a specific interest group is regarded as a subfield within Anglicanism.
The thesis will also draw on Bourdieu’s strategy of representing
relationships in diagrammatic form,109 Connections between organisations
(or sites of interest) will be visually represented and diagrammatic
representation will be used to illustrate a trajectory of field manoeuvres
relating to Mary Sumner and the MU. Tables will be used to represent
common characteristics and mutual relationships or shared institutional
associations between network actors.110
109
Bourdieu, Distinction; Goodman and Martin, ‘Networks after Bourdieu: Women,
Education and Politics from the 1980s to the 1920s’, 73. Goodman uses this strategy to
represent the position of an agent in relation to the field of girls’ secondary education.
110
Cunningham, ‘Innovators, Networks and Structures’.
86
Chapter 3 - Mary Sumner and Religion
Introduction
Mary Sumner’s life (1828-1921) and the instigation of the MU (from 1876)
coincided with a period of ‘religious revival’, stimulated by evangelical enthusiasm
across denominations.1 In the field of religion there was a sustained contest over
doctrinal authority as the privileged position of the Established Anglican Church
was pressurised by the demands of other Christian denominations for more
equitable treatment.2 The ‘ownership of the goods of salvation’ was also
contested by factions within Anglicanism, which placed different emphases on the
interpretation of doctrine and forms of worship.3 Mary Sumner’s activism via the
MU occurred against this contested context in which a defensive Anglican Church
sought to maintain its status and authority. It may also be seen as an expression
of women’s aspirations for fuller participation in matters of religion.4
This chapter will use Bourdieu’s three level analysis (applied in reverse order) to
explore Mary Sumner’s negotiation of constraint and agency and her position visà-vis the reproduction and transaction of power in relation to religion. The
chapter will begin with a focus on habitus. Mary Sumner will be located in relation
to her experiences of religion amongst her kinship network in childhood and
married life. The chapter will then move outwards to consider her wider network.
Doctrinal preferences and notions of capital informed by religion, in particular in
relation to women, will be considered. Attention will be given to the field of
religion within which members of her kinship and social network manoeuvred.
The contextual circumstances which framed these manoeuvres are noted as they
are considered informative of Mary Sumner’s notions of capital and horizons of
possibility and thus pertinent to her activism via the MU.
The chapter will then analyse Mary Sumner’s field manoeuvres in relation to
securing recognition for the MU. It will note how Mary Sumner’s notions of
1
Bradley, The Call to Seriousness.
Chadwick, The Victorian Church Part I, 1827-1859; The Victorian Church Part 2 1860-1901.
3
Rey, ‘Marketing the Goods of Salvation: Bourdieu on Religion’.
4
Gill, Women and the Church of England.
2
87
religious capital accruing to women were articulated through the MU. How capital
was transacted towards pedagogic authority will be analysed. Mary Sumner’s
strategies to promote recognition of the MU within the Anglican Church will be
examined and networking with other agents and organisations in relation to the
field of religion will be considered.
The chapter will then relate Mary Sumner’s activism to the wider field of power.
The MU as an Anglican organisation will be located in relation to the Anglican
Church in the field of religion. The relationship of Anglicanism to power invested
in the state will be examined. Mary Sumner’s position as the instigator of the MU
will be analysed in relation to the reproduction of, or negotiation of, the dominant
religious (and social) doxa with attention being given to gendered horizons of
possibility for women. The chapter will conclude by summarising dispositions of
habitus and horizons of possibility, capital and field manoeuvres and fields and
fields of power, reflective of the three levels of analysis.
Mary Sumner: religious habitus
Family life, living religion, capital assets and symbolic gifts
Mary Sumner’s notions of religion were initially informed in childhood under the
guidance of her parents who, by 1832 having converted to Anglicanism,
approached religion with evangelical enthusiasm. From the age of twenty (1848)
Mary’s experience of religion in home life and in matters of doctrinal
interpretation was also influenced by the Sumner family. Her marriage placed her
in proximity to her husband’s views on religion and to the authoritative views of
his uncle, the Archbishop and his father, the Bishop of Winchester. Mary Sumner
acted as ‘helpmeet’ to her husband, the Rector of Old Alresford, for thirty five
years (1851-1886) before the diocesan adoption of the MU.5 Her social position
overlapped with and was extended through the clerical networks associated with
5
The notion of helpmeet derives from the Bible (Genesis 2. 18) it implies a supportive wife
who facilitates her husband’s career by her effective discharge of responsibility to ensure
a well ordered home but also the notion of companionship and support both emotional
and practical for her spouse in the discharge of his public duties.
88
her husband’s roles as proctor (1866) and then prolocutor in Convocation (1886),
archdeacon (1885) and suffragan bishop (1888).6
Mary Sumner’s kin shared the practice of recording biographies of notable male
family members.7 She followed family tradition by writing her husband’s memoir.8
George Sumner was not only his father’s biographer but completed a memoir of
Sir Benjamin Heywood on behalf of his father-in-law, Thomas Heywood.9 Mary
Sumner’s niece Isabel edited the reminiscences of her father. Her claim that: ‘It
will help many a one to know how a layman, living in the world [...] and sharing
the ordinary pleasures of a country gentleman, can yet fulfil the command; “What
so ever ye do, do all to the Glory of God”’,10 is an assertion of symbolic religious
capital; a characteristic common to all the Heywood and Sumner memoirs. Both
families presented religion as a public practice and as integral to the conduct of
harmonious domestic life. Mary Sumner’s references to religion in daily life, as a
child and in her married life,11 accord with the emphasis on earnest religion
recorded by other members of her family12 and by George Sumner as a feature of
his evangelical upbringing.13
All the memoirs follow a pattern. In addition to recording the observance of
religious practice in home life, attention to religious education and scrutiny of
conscience, they communicate the valuing of warm family relationships. A happy
childhood guided by affectionate pious parents, is followed by domestic harmony
in marriage and a career featuring religious and educational good works. Finally,
family members (and servants) gather for a peaceful deathbed parting and
6
Clergy elected a proctor to represent them in one of the Church Convocations (York or
Canterbury) which were divided into an upper house of bishops and a lower of clergy. A
prolocutor was elected to serve as speaker within Convocation. George Sumner joined the
upper house on his appointment as Suffragan Bishop of Guildford, Memoir of George
Sumner, 63- 66.
7
Thomas Heywood, Sir Benjamin Heywoodand George Sumner, A Memoir of Sir Benjamin
Heywood ... By His Brother, T. H. With Two Chapters of Domestic Lifeand Letters, 18401865 (Manchester: Printed for private circulation 1888); Sumner, Life of C. R. Sumner;
Heywood and Heywood, Reminiscences.
8
Memoir of George Sumner.
9
Heywood, Heywood and Sumner, Memoir of Sir Benjamin Heywood.
10
Heywood and Heywood, Reminiscences, x.
11
Sumner, ‘Early Life.’; ‘Founding.’ T.P Heywood's memoir notes 'parents and children
united in the tenderest love and mutual confidence', Heywood and Heywood,
Reminiscences, 1.
12
Reminiscences.
13
Sumner, Life of C. R. Sumner, 306-307, 324; Sumner, Memoir of George Sumner, 3.
89
testimonials to the character of the deceased from worthy sources are quoted.
George drew on Mary to corroborate the affectionate relations in his family that
he asserted in the memoir of his father:
There never could have been a more united family than the Sumners and it
was remarkable that the sons and daughters who entered into the home
life at Farnham Castle, were each one treated as part of the family quite as
much as the real sons and daughters.14
Mary and George maintained strong links with their Heywood and Sumner
relatives through regular visits. From 1850, they took annual holidays with Bishop
Sumner, which included visits to Geneva, Rome and Seville, whilst their children
stayed with their Heywood grandparents.15 They lived with Bishop Charles
Sumner following the death of his wife in 1849 and Mrs Heywood, Mary’s mother,
when widowed in 1866, moved to Old Alresford Rectory.16 Kinship ties were
reinforced through the rituals of christenings, weddings and funerals.17
Intermarriage between relatives was not unusual.18 The remarriage of widowers
within close kinship, social and professional networks was also common, as the
marriages of George Sumner’s sister Louisanna (1837) and daughter Louisa (1882)
illustrate.19
The former Unitarianism of Mary’s parents and uncle was not perceived as a
difficulty by the Sumner family, despite their prominence in the Anglican
hierarchy.20 Thomas Heywood and his brother Sir Benjamin, who was considered
‘most devotionally minded and kind hearted’,21 were accepted as committed
14
Memoir of George Sumner, 11.
Ibid., 25-27.
16
Ibid., 11, 14, 28.
17
Ibid., 135.
18
See introduction.
19
Memoir of George Sumner, 10, 135-136; Heywood and Heywood, Reminiscences, 40,
261. Louisanna was second wife to Rev. William Gibson, their daughter Ella Sophia,
married Rev. Henry Heywood, Mary Sumner's cousin. Louisa Sumner was second wife to
Barrington Gore Browne, son of Bishop Edward Harold Browne.
20
Sumner, ‘Memorials’. The memorial enumerates generations of Sumners back to the
seventeenth century. There are fifty five references to clerics (including six bishops);
thirteen to schoolmasters and academics (including Eton and Harrow headmasters);
twenty military personnel; several titled gentlemen and where no profession is mentioned
at least ten entries appear to reference landed gentry; ten Sumners are located overseas.
21
Sumner, Life of C. R. Sumner, 425.
15
90
Anglicans.22 George acted as chaplain to his brother-in- law, Thomas Percival
Heywood, in his role of High Sherriff of Lancashire (1851) and gave his funeral
sermon in 1897.23 Mary Sumner did not refer to the conversion of her parents but
Thomas Percival’s reminiscences acknowledged the Unitarian background of the
Heywoods with respect: ‘To this day I hear with pain and impatience any abuse of
Unitarians: [...] My father and mother were faithful and devoted servants of God
before they became members of the Church’.24
Mary Sumner’s evangelical belief in active efforts towards securing salvation is
illustrated in her writing. She drew on biblical authority to assert that: ‘Our Father
in Heaven shows by his training of us, his grown up children that life was meant to
be a place of discipline and self-conquest’.25 The card Mary Sumner kept on her
dressing table as a young wife and used as a prompt towards religious endeavour,
although recalled later in her public recollections on the genesis of the MU, was at
the time, a private exercise.26 Similar scrutiny of conscience is noted in Jennie
(Mrs Charles) Sumner’s response to the Bishop’s translation to Winchester in
1827: ‘humility fills my mind my prayer is most earnest that we may be kept
humble [...] more talents added to our charge calls for redoubled vigilance and
activity’,27 a sentiment George Sumner echoed in urging clergy not to overlook
their own private prayer and improvement.28
Religion was presented as a comfort. Mrs Heywood was sustained in her final
illness by her son-in-law’s sermons and ministration.29 Preparation for and
anticipation of the afterlife were mentioned frequently. George Sumner was
described as ‘sailing placidly to eternity in absolute submission to the will of
22
Benjamin Heywood’s conversion was after his return to parliament as an MP in 1831.
Thomas Heywood had converted by the time of his move to Hope End in 1832,
Bebbington, ‘Unitarian Members of Parliament in the Nineteenth Century’, 5; Sumner,
‘Early Life'. Anglican Church attendance and patronage is recalled in this account.
23
Heywood and Heywood, Reminiscences, 43, 264-275.
24
Ibid., 4-5. Thomas Heywood, Mary's father was a trustee of Cross Street Chapel before
conversion and was close to his elder brother Benjamin.
25
Sumner, ‘Obedience’, 31; Romans 8. 16 ' We are the children of God'; Hebrews 12. 6
'Whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth'.
26
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 13.
27
Sumner, Life of C. R. Sumner, 126.
28
Memoir of George Sumner, 108-109.
29
Ibid., 13, 28. She died in 1870.
91
God’.30 Jennie Sumner approached death with expressions of ‘joyful hope and
expectation’ in a ‘happy state of semi-entrancement’.31 The death of her husband
was similarly an occasion for family participation with George Sumner taking Holy
Communion at his father’s bedside amidst children and servants waiting to be
wished farewell by the dying bishop.32 The joyful anticipation of the afterlife was
similarly recorded in the later account of Mary Sumner’s own death, which notes
‘the vision must have been wonderful’.33 The sorrows of parting, were alleviated
by the comfort of the family circle and the conviction that a life well lived would
assure salvation,34 and that after death ‘we shall soon meet again’.35
Mary Sumner’s recall of her mother’s girlhood religious awakening after a dream
of judgement (when still a Unitarian) is an assertion of the value placed on
religious sensibility.36 Mary Sumner’s references to the solemnity of confirmation
and communion accord with the personal experience of ‘vital religion’ professed
by evangelicals and also affirm the advocacy for communion expressed by her
husband and father-in-law.37 She recalled the birth of her daughter, Margaret
Effie, in 1849 as a religious experience: ‘My first thought when my first child was
born was of an awful sense of responsibility – God had given an immortal soul in
to our keeping, it was a blessed solemn moment the joy was quite unspeakable’.38
The attention to preparation for what Mary Sumner referred to as ‘the Home
above’,39 involved the observance of religious ritual in the earthly home. Sunday
was a quiet day for spiritual refreshment: two services were attended even whilst
on holiday. The habit of family prayer, in which servants were included, shared by
both the Heywoods and Sumners, was sustained by George and Mary Sumner in
30
Ibid., 153-154. He died in 1909.
Sumner, Life of C. R. Sumner: 324. She died in 1849.
32
Ibid., 479. He died in 1874.
33
Louisa Gore Browne, Letter to Mrs Hubert Barclay in Response to Condolence Letter on
the Death of Mary Sumner August 1921: LPL MU/MSS/2/2.
34
Memoir of George Sumner, 12. Letter quoted from Charles Richard Sumner on his
bereavement to Mary Sumner; '... we must pray to be enabled to forget our selfishness
[...] For the loss is to us- to her the gain!'
35
Ibid., 28; Heywood and Heywood, Reminiscences, 77.
36
Sumner, ‘Early Life.’
37
Ibid.
38
‘Founding.’
39
‘Marriage 2' Home Life, 18 - 25. 24.
31
92
their own household.40 In 1886, their new home was consecrated by a religious
service and prayer composed for the occasion.41
The focus on religion in the home positioned parents as religious educators and
acknowledged the influence of women. Charles Sumner, as Rector of Highclere in
1817, circulated an address to parents emphasising the importance of religious
home example on children.42 The Heywoods also modelled religious conduct to
their children. Mary Sumner wrote: ‘I never remember disobeying my parents.
Such a course seemed to be made impossible [...] by their example of high
principle as regards obedience, truth and honour’.43 According to Porter,
Woodward and Erskine, Mary noted the ‘debt of gratitude’ owed to Mrs Heywood
for the thorough religious training, which included daily bible reading, that she
and her siblings Tom and Maggie had received.’44
Mary Sumner created a picture of childhood as a time of innocence and
playfulness and parental care as affectionate.45 She also noted the warmth shown
by her father-in-law to her baby daughter, Margaret Effie,46 which accorded with
George Sumner’s recall of his parents’ enjoyment of holidays with their children.
He included an extract from a letter written by his mother, Jennie Sumner, in the
memoir of his father:
We are greatly enjoying ourselves walking - rambling over the rocks still
more by being with our children and permitted to enjoy their society as we
can never do at home to be so much with my dear husband and to see him
thus surrounded with our children and delighting to hear them converse
freely are sources of happiness.47
Mary Sumner’s experience of family relationships demonstrated that the
gendered role of mother and helpmeet was esteemed. Jennie Sumner regarded
40
Memoir of George Sumner, 21, 16.
Ibid., 84.
42
Sumner, Life of C. R. Sumner, 34.
43
Sumner, ‘Early Life’.
44
Ibid.; Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 8.
45
Sumner, ‘Early Life’.
46
Memoir of George Sumner, 14. As previously noted Margaret Effie was born in 1849
when George and Mary moved to Farnham Castle.
47
Sumner, Life of C. R. Sumner, 220. Extract of letter from Mrs Jennie Sumner included in
the memior without addressee or date.
41
93
married love as blessed and sanctified by God48 and George Sumner’s
grandmother, Hannah Bird Sumner, is quoted as stating: ‘no life can be happier
than that of a private clergyman’s wife - when the parties are tenderly united by a
bond of rational affection, not expecting unchequered felicity (which in no station
here below is attainable)’.49 Accounts of family life, couched in conventional
religious rhetoric, refer to the contribution of wives and mothers and extol their
virtues as religious exemplars to their families. Mary Sumner drew on Coventry
Patmore’s image to describe her mother as the ‘Angel in the house to us all’50 and
was similarly commended in her own 1921 biography.51 At Farnham Castle,
George Sumner’s home from 1827-1848:
There never was a house where domestic happiness was more beautifully
seen [...] who can forget the joyous radiance of Mrs [Jennie] Sumner of
whom it may be truly said, that she was the centre of a system of gladness,
which influenced the whole circle as it moved harmoniously around her.52
Mary Sumner described her mother: ‘winning people of all sorts and kinds, rich
and poor by her tender sympathy, her charm of manner, her cleverness and
humour and her quick appreciation of all that was good and interesting in those
who approached her’.53 Mrs Heywood was also celebrated for her ‘very decided
religious convictions’ which ‘moulded her whole tone of thought and manner of
life and were an influence to those with whom she came in contact’.54 Her
endeavours as a spiritual helpmeet were acknowledged by her husband on his
deathbed: ‘It is all through you that I die in faith and peace - God bless you we
shall soon meet again’.55 Mary Sumner’s mother-in-law Jennie Sumner was
similarly commended.56 A eulogy signed by 684 clergy, praised her contribution to
family life and her husband’s career:
She ‘consecrated all to the service of her heavenly master’ and well did she
work with him [the Bishop] by her loving holy influence. The Golden thread
48
Ibid., 220.
Ibid., 23.
50
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 8.
51
Ibid., 15, 17,.
52
Sumner, Life of C. R. Sumner, 199. Reminiscence of Reverend Charles Hume. George
went to Eton in 1836 and Balliol Oxford in 1842.
53
Sumner, ‘Early Life'.
54
Ibid.
55
Memoir of George Sumner, 28.
56
Sumner, Life of C. R. Sumner, 37.
49
94
of principle, the fear and love of God was woven into the Farnham daily life
and made it very attractive to all who shared in it.57
George Sumner added: ‘She was a true mother in Israel and throughout her
married life a helpmeet to the husband that she dearly loved both in domestic
and public life’.58
George Sumner’s conduct as a parish clergyman, which involved the ‘heart to
heart’ work of taking religion into the homes of parishioners by visiting, leading
family prayer and winning over men,59 upheld the evangelical stance of his father
for whom ministry was more than the public act of once a week preaching. It
involved ‘attention to the young and all that general parochial superintendence
which is implied in what is termed the cure of souls’.60
Mary Sumner was dismissive of the previous aristocratic absentee incumbent of
Old Alresford. For her the rectory was to be ‘no longer the land of lotus living
ease’ but ‘a centre of parochial usefulness’.61 This was realised through a number
of projects in the years between 1851 and 1886 that aimed to foster religious
knowledge and behaviour, such as the village reading room (1878). Even the
‘Cottage Garden Society’ can be interpreted with the promotion of the
religiously approved virtues of thrift and temperance in mind.62 The Sumners’
approach to parochial work assumed that Mary would, following the pattern of
her mother-in-law, be an active helpmeet in the parish.63 According to Mary
Sumner, her husband ‘greatly approved of my having a mothers’ meeting –
which went through catechism, baptismal and Holy Communion services, the
marriage service and special passages from the Bible and Prayer Book.’64 The
57
Ibid., 324; Mary Sumner repeats the anecdote, see Memoir of George Sumner, 12.
Memoir of George Sumner, 12.
59
Ibid., 111.
60
Sumner, Life of C. R. Sumner, 171.
61
Memoir of George Sumner, 15. The previous incumbent was Brownlow North, Earl of
Guildford, son of the former Archbishop and Master of St Cross, the alms houses
fictionalised as Hiram's Hospital by Trollope.
62
Ibid., 16, 20, 21, 31-38, 100-107. Education will be addressed in a following chapter.
63
Sumner, Life of C. R. Sumner, 155, 324.
64
Sumner, ‘Founding'. Membership cards introduced in 1876 were an innovation to an
existing meeting for which the date is unspecified. A following chapter will discuss
philanthropy in relation to Mary Sumner's understanding of mission.
58
95
Church choir, a meeting for married men and a branch of the GFS (1875), were
also under her direction.65
Mary Sumner’s practice and dispositions of habitus were informed in a milieu in
which agents upheld the doxa of Anglicanism.66 Her network included clergymen
who, as holders of official positions in the field of the Church, were invested with
symbolic social capital accruing to high office and pedagogic authority by virtue
of their institutional attachment. The enthusiastic advocacy for living religion,
evident in Mary Sumner’s kinship network, indicates that lay members of her
family were also habituated into the misrecognition of the religious cultural
arbitrary as legitimate.67 Their public assertion of scrutiny of conscience, piety,
service and charity as symbolic religious capital indicates that these attributes
were recognised within kinship and wider networks.68
In Mary Sumner’s experience of marriage and family, symbolic capital assets
accruing to women were as helpmeets and maternal exemplars of religious
values.69 Possession of this symbolic capital was rewarded by esteem within the
family and the hope of a happy reunion in the ‘hereafter’. The symbolic violence
of patriarchal domination was masked by the conformity of men to gendered
expectations of protectiveness, chivalrous behaviour and concessionary
delegation of some authority to women in gendered roles that could be realised
in the pedagogic action of philanthropy or parish work. Capital thus earned gave
reputation (and thereby a degree of authority) for the individual women. It also
added to the collective capital of the family because it was recognised within the
social milieu and field of the Church which were structurally informative of the
habitus of Mary Sumner and her kin.70
65
Memoir of George Sumner, 16.
Bourdieu, Logic of Practice, 53, 54, 20.
67
Pierre Bourdieu and Richard Nice, Outline of a Theory of Practice (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1977), 164.
68
Skeggs, ‘Exchange, Value and Affect: Bourdieu and ‘the Self’'.
69
Poupeau, ‘Reasons for Domination: Bourdieu Versus Habermas’, 71, 72.
70
Skeggs, ‘Exchange, Value and Affect: Bourdieu and ‘the Self’’.
66
96
Doctrinal belief in Mary Sumner’s kinship network: a context of
contested religious capital
George and Mary Sumner’s years of parish ministry occurred against a context of
controversy amongst Anglicans concerning ‘correct’ doctrinal interpretation and
pressure from rival denominations contesting Anglican dominance in the religious
field.71 Bishop Charles Sumner and his brother, the Archbishop of Canterbury,
were, as agents with high field position, engaged in manoeuvres to support their
preferred interpretation of doctrine and the status of the Anglican Church.72
Struggles in the field of religion also directly involved other members of Mary
Sumner’s kinship network.
‘Correct’ form in baptism, communion and ritual in worship was disputed by Low
Church evangelicals (such as Bishop Charles Sumner and Archbishop John Bird
Sumner), who emphasised individual effort towards salvation73 and High Church
Tractarians, who favoured ritual and priestly authority. 74 The effect of Charles
Sumner’s antipathy to those suspected of Tractarian views, which included the
exclusion of ladies from philanthropic projects, is recalled by Charlotte Yonge’s
friend, Charlotte Moberly:
Bishop Charles Sumner had not long been Bishop of Winchester. He and
almost all the clergy wives were of the Evangelical School. He had entirely
made up his mind that Mr Keble would go over to Rome and was dreadfully
afraid of him. The Tractarian Oxford movement was just beginning [1833]
and the new Headmaster [George Moberly, Winchester] had the reputation
of being connected with it and being full of Romish tendencies so for many
years he had a hard time of it in Winchester.75
The strength of feeling associated with establishing the exact doctrinal
interpretation of the Anglican Church and by implication defending its spiritual
71
The Tractarian Movement had started in 1833 and controversy over ritual continued
until the 1874 Ritual Act; 1850 saw the Papal establishment of a Roman Catholic hierarchy
in England and the 1851 census revealed declining numbers of Anglicans. Chadwick, The
Victorian Church Part I, 1827-1859; The Victorian Church Part 2, 1860-1901.
72
Scotland, John Bird Sumner.
73
Bradley, The Call to Seriousness, 35; Chadwick, The Victorian Church Part 2, 1860-1901,
463-446; Turner, ‘The Victorian Crisis of Faith and the Faith That Was Lost'.
74
Knight, The Nineteenth Century Church; Chandler, An Introduction to the Oxford
Movement.
75
C. A. E. Moberly, Dulce Domum: George Moberly, His Family and Friends (London: John
Murray, 1911). 58-59, 83. See Appendix 2.
97
authority is demonstrated by the Gorham case. In 1850, after three years of
dispute, Archbishop John Bird Sumner supported Reverend Gorham’s view that
baptismal regeneration was upheld by living the baptismal promise, rather than
by virtue of the rite itself, which had been legally contested by Tractarian Bishop
Henry Philpotts as against Anglican doctrine.76 George Sumner devoted nine
pages of biography to justifying Charles Sumner’s judgement which, by
implication, emphasised the role of parents and Godparents in preserving
baptismal grace and protecting the child from sin.77 Mary Sumner was to make
this central to the MU.78
The conversion of senior Anglican clerics to the Roman Catholic Church affirmed
Charles Sumner’s fear that Tractarianism led to Rome.79 The sense of threat to the
Established Anglican Church was heightened by the establishment of the Roman
Catholic hierarchy in England, the so called ‘papal aggression’ of 1850. Charles
Sumner considered it to be an invasion of the Queen’s supremacy as head of the
Church of England.80 His aversion to the ‘corruption of Rome’ was reflected in his
objection to the use of Marian iconography,81 and he perceived Roman Catholic
priests as an assault on the paternal authority of the family:
The system of the confessional is foreign to the spirit of the gospel [...]
Englishmen will never endure to see the weaker members of their families
subjected to an authority which, if it does not taint and confuse the moral
sense, will subdue the mind to the extinction of all independent volition
and chain it captive with passive submission to the will of a spiritual
director.82
76
Bradley, The Call to Seriousness, 13, 26.The case went to the Ecclesiastical Court of
Arches and the Privy Council. Philpotts threatened to excommunicate Sumner after his
ruling.
77
Sumner, Life of C. R. Sumner, 331-340.
78
Sumner, Home Life, 6; MU card.
79
Ashwell and Wilberforce, Life of the Right Reverend Samuel Wilberforce, D.D: Lord
Bishop of Oxford and Afterwards of Winchester, with Selections from His Diaries and
Correspondence; See Newsome, The Parting of Friends: A Study of the Wilberforces and
Henry Manning. Notable converts were John Henry Newman (1845) and Henry Manning
(1849). Manning was the brother-in-law of Sumner kinsman, Samuel Wilberforce. Other
Wilberforce family converts included brothers Robert, William and Henry and brother-inlaw George Ryder followed by his daughter and son in law.
80
Sumner, Life of C. R. Sumner, 345-346.
81
Ibid., 286-287.
82
Ibid., 380.
98
In 1876 Mary Sumner’s sister Margaret converted to Roman Catholicism.
According to the account written by her niece Isabel:
Of this act and of the mental agony which it caused to herself and to my
father, both having been always of one heart and of one mind working
together for God and His Church, I cannot write.83
There is no surviving record of Mary Sumner’s response to this but her writings for
the MU reveal her to be in accord with her father-in-law’s views on Roman
Catholicism. She averred: ‘the father should be the priest in the house’.84
Similarly, when discussing the use of images in relation to MU materials, she
insisted that the Madonna should only be represented with the infant Jesus:
She was most blessed as Mother of our Saviour but RC’s worship her. Our
Lord clearly showed that he did not wish this during his life [...] he always
showed respect to her - but as an honoured human being – let us guard
against worshiping the Virgin Mary as the RC’s do.85
Mary Sumner also felt that Roman Catholic attempts to ‘win our people’ were a
threat to be resisted86 and whilst she could respect Nonconformist Protestants,87
she was strongly opposed to Mormonism and the ‘deadly heresy’ of Christian
Science.88
The death of Tractarian John Keble, in 1866, within the Anglican Church may have
alleviated local tension but the ‘struggle for doctrine’ 89 and related field
manoeuvres remained current within Mary Sumner’s family. In 1868, George
Sumner edited Principles at Stake,90 a collection of essays by anti-Tractarian
scholars. George’s essay, ‘The Doctrine of the Eucharist Considered, with
83
Heywood and Heywood, Reminiscences, 125-126. This was the same year Mary Sumner
initiated the membership card at her mothers' meeting.
84
Mary Sumner, To Husbands and Fathers n.d.: LPL MU/MSS/2/1/9.
85
Letter to Mrs Maude Central Secretary of the Mothers' Union 1917, LPL
MU/CO/PRES/5/3.
86
‘Letters to Mrs Maude’, n.d.
87
Mary Sumner, ‘Secular Education’, MIC (October 1894).
88
Mary Sumner, Letter to Mrs Maude Re Christian Science 25 May 1909: LPL MU Box
452.14.
89
Sumner, Principles, 135.
90
Ibid. The word 'stake' evoked Protestant martyrs Latimer and Ridley 'whose blood had
been shed for the pure truth of God', 170.
99
Statements Recently Put Forward Concerning the Sacrament’, reflected the
evangelical view in its argument against transubstantiation:91
If the wicked only eat the sign or sacrament of the body of the Lord without
being in any wise partakers of Christ then it seems to follow that
consecration cannot so change the elements of bread and wine as that they
shall be themselves the body and blood of Christ. – [...] Eucharist is not a
sacrifice but a sacrament a symbolic receiving to the heart of the believer
the sacrifice is of praise and thanksgiving not body and blood [as
Tractarians and Roman Catholics believed].92
Despite a refutation of the doctrine of transubstantiation, evangelicals within the
Anglican Church promoted communion, according to Charles Sumner: ‘more
frequent administration of the Holy Sacrament is much to be desired, so that the
well-disposed [...] may have many opportunities of drawing near to the table of
the Lord’.93 An increase of communicants was regarded as a measure of Episcopal
success and Mary Sumner thought it relevant to comment on the uplifting effect
of her husband’s confirmation addresses. Taking communion was advocated on
the MU membership card (Table 3: Wording of Mothers’ Union Cards).94
George and Mary Sumner’s church refurbishment (1871) was typical practice
amongst their kin and social network. Charles Sumner (1844, Hale), Thomas
Heywood (1840, Wellington Heath) and the Yonges (1872, Otterbourne), all
endowed or improved churches.95 However the appropriate adornment of
churches was a matter for dispute between opposing doctrinal factions.96 Thomas
Percival Heywood, who sponsored the (1874) church refurbishment that was the
catalyst for a legal challenge to the legitimacy of the form of [allegedly Tractarian
ritualistic] worship conducted by the incumbent, was directly caught up in the
91
Ibid., 145.Tractarians like Roman Catholics maintained the 'real presence' in the
Eucharist.
92
Ibid., 161.
93
Sumner, Life of C. R. Sumner, 173. The confirmation drive extended to repentant
prisoners at Parkhurst Reformatory. ibid., 319.
94
Memoir of George Sumner, 83-84; See also Ashwell and Wilberforce, Life of the Right
Reverend Samuel Wilberforce, D.D: Lord Bishop of Oxford and Afterwards of Winchester,
with Selections from His Diaries and Correspondence. Wilberforce makes numerous
references to taking confirmation services.
95
Sumner, Life of C. R. Sumner, 135; Sumner, Memoir of George Sumner, 16-18;
Battiscombe, Charlotte Mary Yonge, 48-49.
96
Sumner, Life of C. R. Sumner, 178. Charles Sumner 'preached the restoration and
adornment of churches so shortly to be monoplised by the opposite school of thought'.
[Tractarians were also styled Ritualists].
100
bitter controversy of the ‘Miles Platting Affair’, which finally concluded in 1882.
His daughter, Isabel, recorded the grievance felt at perceived interference on the
part of an extreme anti -Tractarian Low Church faction.
My Father’s efforts, both public and private, in defence of the clergy and
people of St. John’s during the cruel and unjust persecution which they had
to undergo were generous and untiring; they were also entirely unselfish.
He was not contending for a ritual which he personally preferred, for he
was no ritualist ... But he could not and would not, endure to see a united
congregation, with its devoted parish priests, insulted and molested by
persons who had nothing to do with the church or parish and relentlessly
persecuted for obeying, in perfect good faith, the rubrics of The Book of
Common Prayer.97
The church restoration funded by George and Mary Sumner at Old Alresford
avoided controversy: ‘there was neither excessive ornamentation nor severe
plainness’. The avoidance of ‘severe plainness’ illustrates the Sumners’ rejection
of views tending towards more extreme Protestantism. Although evangelical in
earnestness they rejected a Nonconformist emphasis on preaching. The church
was a ‘House of Prayer’ [Mary Sumner’s italics] not a ‘House of preaching’.98 The
appointments of Samuel Wilberforce (1869) and Edward Harold Browne (1873) in
succession to Charles Sumner (1827-69) brought a perspective to the
interpretation of doctrine more accommodating to Higher Church views which
George, who had attempted a conciliatory tone in Principles at Stake, adapted
to.99 As Archdeacon (1885) he was described as a ‘moderate High Churchman’100
and on his appointment as Bishop of Guildford (1888), ‘a champion of no party or
sect’.101 Despite taking the Bible as inspiration, the Sumners were also to accept
the theological interpretation that accommodated the scientific understanding of
evolution which emerged towards the latter years of the century. As with their
interpretation of the sacraments of baptism and communion, belief in ‘the sense
not the letter’ allowed them to recognise the non-literal ‘Higher Criticism’
approach to biblical interpretation as advocated (amongst others) by their
acquaintances, Archbishop Temple and Charles Kingsley.102
97
Heywood and Heywood, Reminiscences,138-139.
Sumner, ‘Prayer’ Home LIfe. 100-109. 127.
99
Sumner, Principles, 153, 'What I have said [on transubstantiation] has been, I hope urged
in a spirit of brotherly candour and charity. Hard names convince no one'.
100
Memoir of George Sumner, 51.
101
Ibid., 78.
102
Sumner, Principles, 158; Chadwick, The Victorian Church Part 2, 1860-1901, 87-110.
98
101
Mary Sumner’s habitus was informed at a time when the ownership of the ‘goods
of salvation’ was bitterly contested.103 The temporal durability of this contest
indicates the capital value accorded to the possession of ‘correct’ doctrinal
interpretation within the evolving field of religion as a whole and within the sub
field of the Anglican Church. The struggles for authority in matters of doctrine
could (and did in Mary Sumner’s kinship and social network) have professional,
legal and personal/social repercussions. Her relatives participated in field
manoeuvres to uphold the established status of the Anglican Church and in
advocacy for an interpretation of doctrine which rejected both ornate ritual and
austerity in forms of worship. For Mary Sumner and her kin (with the notable
exception of her sister) orthodoxy and thus the religious capital of most worth lay
in Anglican belief.
Mary Sumner: wider habitus, notions of capital, field
manoeuvres, networking to establish the Mothers’ Union
Mary Sumner’s kin were not the only mediators of her understanding of religion
and its relation to what she deemed to be the appropriate roles and conduct of
women. The Sumners identified themselves with the upper classes,104 a position
substantiated by the affluence of Mary’s father, her titled uncle, George’s
Episcopal relatives and his education at Eton and Oxford. Old Alresford, a living
worth £500 a year, was sufficient for sustaining the lifestyle of a gentleman and
Mary Sumner identified her and her husband’s social capital by enumerating
several titled persons and gentry amongst their circle.105
Social life was bound up with religious practice. At Old Alresford, ‘the clergy and
their wives were ever welcomed and many pleasant gatherings were held for
church work’.106 Supporting Church and philanthropic projects demonstrated the
discharge of social obligations not only with regard to the perceived needs of the
103
Bourdieu and Passeron, Reproduction, 126.
Heywood and Heywood, Reminiscences, 271; Sumner, Memoir of George Sumner, 2-7;
Sumner, ‘Address at the Church Congress in Hull 1890'.
105
Memoir of George Sumner, 23-25.
106
Ibid., 21-25.
104
102
lower classes but amongst more privileged social equals and were consequently a
source of capital.
The GFS provided Mary Sumner’s first involvement with a women’s religious
organisation. It aimed to prevent working-class women and girls from ‘falling’ (the
loss of symbolic capital occasioned by loss of chastity), by winning their adherence
to religiously sanctioned standards of womanly conduct.107 This was to be
achieved through religious guidance, employment training and opportunities for
social contact under the supervising patronage of a woman of a higher class.108
The GFS originated in Winchester (initial discussions 1874, official inception 1875)
and spread through the efforts of ‘Foundress’ Mary Townsend to mobilise women
of similar class and religious interests.109 Mary Sumner was a ‘Founding Associate’
and initiated one of its first branches (1875). Her involvement was sustained after
the inception of the MU as a diocesan organisation in 1886. Mary Sumner
visualised the MU as extending the preventive moral agenda of the GFS through
the influence of women in their homes and she used GFS events and the example
of Mary Townsend’s networking strategy to promote the MU.110 According to
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, she ‘seized every opportunity that offered itself of
seeking to interest personal friends far and near’.111 The following table
demonstrates the overlap of GFS and MU activism.112 The asterisks (*) indicate
active support for the MU amongst spouses.
107
Agnes L. Money, History of the Girls' Friendly Society (London: Wells Gardner, Darton,
1905), 4, 6. GFS Rule 3 insisted on chastity.
108
Heath-Stubbs, Friendships Highway, 4.
109
Money, History of the Girls’ Friendly Society, 11. 'Every Branch was organised in direct
communication with her. For several years she never took so much as a week's holiday
from GFS correspondence'. See Appendix 2.
110
Heath-Stubbs, Friendships Highway, 6; Mary Sumner, ‘Vice Presidential Speech to the
GFS. Diocesan Conference at the George Hotel’, G.F.S Associates Journal Dec-Jan 1885, 8.
111
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 27.
112
Data from Mary Sumner Her Life and Work and A Short History of the Mothers’ Union;
Friendship’s Highway; Winchester Diocesan MU Committee Minute Book; Fifty Years and
the Dictionary of National Biography.
103
Table1: Activists in the Mothers’ Union and Girls’ Friendly Society
Activist
MU
GFS
Bishop as Spouse
Mary Sumner
Foundress Diocesan
President 1885-1915
Central President 1896 -1909
George Sumner*,
Suffragan Bishop of
Guildford from 1888
Louisa Barrington
Gore Browne
(daughter of Mary
Sumner)
Dorothy Gore
Browne (daughter
of Louisa
Barrington Gore
Browne)
Charlotte Yonge
MU Associate Botley c.1882
Speaks to central council re
Mary Sumner’s views on
divorce
GFS Founding Associate
Winchester 1875
Diocesan Vice President 1885
Diocesan President 1887
Assists with Old Alresford GFS
branch between 1875-1882
Winchester Diocesan
Committee 1886 member.
Editor MIC 1890- 1901
Founding Associate 1875.
GFS Literature Correspondent
Her 1886 Novel The Two Sides
of the Shield features the GFS.
The Hon. Ellen
Joyce
Original Winchester Diocesan
Committee member 1885
Emily Wilberforce
MU Central President 191620
Started Newcastle MU after
Portsmouth Church Congress
1885
Her daughter Mrs Russell
became MU temperance
correspondent in 1917
Winchester Diocesan
Committee 1885
GFS Founding Associate 1875
GFS Emigration Correspondent
1883
Founder of Winchester
Emigration Society 1882 which
by affiliation became BWEA
1888
(Sister-in-law to Lady Dynevor
GFS Diocesan President , St
David’s, 1881, 1920)
Diocesan President Chichester
1897
Elizabeth Harold
Browne
The Hon. Augusta
Maclagan
Frances Atlay
Ellen Bickersteth
Emily Dowager
Marchioness of
Hertford
Lady Horatia
Erskine (daughter
of Dowager
Marchioness of
Hertford)
Sophia Wickham
Her daughter Lucy
Ogilvy was also in
the MU
Winchester Diocesan President
1911
Winchester Diocesan President
1879
Central Vice President 1903
Friend of Mary Sumnerorganised mothers’ meetings
Lichfield 1873/4
Started MU in Hereford after
Portsmouth Church
Conference 1885
Inaugurated Exeter MU after
Portsmouth Church Congress
1885. Friend of Mary Sumner
Associate from 1888
Started MU Diocese of
London 1890 with her
daughter
Central Life Vice President
Sisters supported MU as
diocesan presidents or
leaders.
Diocesan President, Lichfield
1880, York 1892
Winchester member c.1894,
district speaker 1896
friend of Mary Sumner
Associate c.1894
First Diocesan President
Hereford 1880
Diocesan President Ripon 1881
Ernest
Wilberforce,*
Bishop of Newcastle
1882, Chichester
1896 - 1907
Edward Harold
Browne,*Bishop of
Ely 1864,
Winchester 1873 1891
William Maclagan,
Bishop of Lichfield
1878, York* 1891 1908
James Atlay, Bishop
of Hereford , 1868 1894
Edward Bickersteth,
Bishop of Exeter,
1885 - 1900
Diocesan President Worcester
1881
Winchester Diocesan Council
1887
104
Louise Creighton
Lady Laura Ridding
(close friend of L.C)
Peterborough Diocesan
President 1891 and Central
Council member 1896
1908 Pan Anglican Congress
Women’s Committee
Instigator of MU Watch
Committee 1912 Instigated
Women’s League Southwell1884 used MU prayer
President Newcastle Diocese
1883
Winchester Diocesan Council
Southwell diocesan GFS
instigated 1884 - attempted to
combine into Women’s League
1886.
Her mother Lady Selborne was
at the GFS Conference
Winchester 1887
Winchester Diocesan President
1889
President Central Council 1901
onwards
1880 first Diocesan President
Exeter
Eleanor Chaloner
Chute
Winchester Diocesan
Committee 1888
Beatrice Temple
Supported Laura Ridding’s
Womens League 1886.
Hosted meeting to discuss
London Diocesan MU
Mary Benson
Speaker at Winchester
Diocesan Conference 1887
and first central meeting.
Supported Laura Ridding’s
Womens League
Winchester Diocesan Vice
President 1898
Central Vice President
Central President 1893-1885
Speaker at Winchester
Diocesan Conference 1887
Diocesan Council Member
1891
Hon. Sec. Ripon MU 1909
gave evidence on behalf of
MU to Gorell commission on
divorce 1909
Member of Council 1877
President Central Council
1883-1899
Edith Davidson
Barbarina
The Hon. Lady Grey
Emeline Francis
Steinthal
Mandell Creighton ,
Bishop of
Peterborough ,
1891, London, 1897
- 1901
George Ridding,*
Bishop of Southwell
1884 - 1904
Frederick Temple
Exeter 1869, Bishop
of London 1885 and
Archbishop of
Canterbury 1896 1902
Edward Benson,
Archbishop of
Canterbury, 1883 1896
Randall Davidson,
Winchester, 1895,
Archbishop of
Canterbury , 1903 1928
Diocesan President Ripon 1914
The networking amongst women to promote mutual aims, which was
instrumental in expansion of both societies, was reflected in their ‘Objects’ [aims].
The GFS sought: ‘To band together in one Society, women and girls as Associates
and Members, for mutual help, (religious and secular), for sympathy and
prayer’.113 Mary Sumner’s intention with the MU (stated 1885) was similarly: ‘To
organize in every place a band of mothers who will unite in prayer and seek by
their own example to lead their families in purity and holiness of life’.114 At the
first MU Diocesan Conference in 1887, Mary Sumner said, ‘those who join are
asked to try and interest others in the union and persuade them to become
members.115
113
Object 1 GFS 1875.
Object 3 of the MU Sumner, Home Life, 10.
115
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 30-31.
114
105
Networking amongst clerical contacts was a significant manoeuvre towards access
to the religious field. The personal contact of Mary Sumner and other women with
bishops, who embodied both social capital and pedagogic authority as agents with
high position in the Anglican Church, was a key factor in the genesis and
development of both the MU and the GFS. In 1873, the Sumner’s kinsman, Bishop
Samuel Wilberforce, had been instrumental in stimulating Mary Townsend to
conceive of the GFS.116 Mary Sumner’s speech at the 1885 Portsmouth Church
Conference was delivered at the instigation of her friend, Bishop Ernest
Wilberforce. The suggestion that the MU should be adopted as a diocesan body
occurred at a social gathering and with the sanction of Bishop Harold Browne was
enacted the following day.117 The following table (Table 2) illustrates Mary
Sumner’s links with bishops through kinship, friendship, or through her husband’s
career in the Church.118
Table 2: Episcopal Contacts of George and Mary Sumner
Bishop
John Bird Sumner,
Archbishop of Canterbury,
1848-1862
Charles Richard Sumner,
Winchester, 1827-1869
(abbreviated as CRS)
Samuel Wilberforce,
Winchester, 1869-1873
(abbreviated as SW) *
Nature of relationship
George Sumner’s Uncle
Remarks
Evangelical George (abbreviated as GHS ) is his
chaplain
George’s Father
Edward Harold Browne,
Winchester, 1873-1891
(abbreviated as EHB) * $
Second son Barrington Gore
Browne married Louisa d. of
Mary Sumner in 1882
Evangelical
George is his chaplain
Appoints to George to Old Alresford 1851
Son of William Wilberforce
CRS patron to SW patron to GHS - 1873.
Broad churchman
Son Ernest see below
MU supporter. Mrs HB GFS and MU supporter.
Moderate high churchman appointed George
Archdeacon 1886, Bishop of Guildford 1888
Richard Trench, Archbishop
of Dublin, 1864-1907 (
formerly Dean Trench)
Ernest Wilberforce,
Newcastle, 1882-1896,
Chichester, 1896-1907 *$
Rector of Itchenstoke
Friend and advisor to George
prior to 1864
Son of Samuel Wilberforce
Friend
William Maclagan, Lichfield
1878, Archbishop of York
1891-1908 *$
Lord Alwyne Compton, Ely
1886-1904, succeeds EHB
Edward Bickersteth, Exeter,
1885-1900 $
George Ridding,
Southwell, Nottinghamshire,
1884-1904 *$
Friend
Distant cousin
Friend
Patron
Friend
Colleague in Convocation
Friend
Friend, former Headmaster
of Winchester College in
Moberly and Yonge circle
Also friend to Mary’s father Thomas Heywood
High church
Prompts Mary to speak, Mrs Emily Wilberforce
an MU activist and London MU President,
Central President 1916.
Temperance enthusiast
High church MU supporter, Mrs Maclagan
initiated early version of MU
MU mass meeting speaker
High church early MU branches in diocese
Early MU branches in diocese
Evangelical
Husband of Laura Ridding
116
Money, History of the Girls’ Friendly Society, 4.
Testimony of Mrs Wilbeforce in Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 21.
118
Memoir of George Henry Sumner; Life of C. R. Sumner; Mary Sumner Her Life and Work
and A Short History of the Mothers' Union.
117
106
Cosmo Gordon Lang,
Stepney,1901, Archbishop of
York, 1909-1928*
Edgar Charles Sumner
Gibson, Gloucester, 19051924
Inducted to living of Portsea
by George Sumner in early
1890s
Nephew
Son of George’s elder sister,
Louisanna, (d. 1899) 2nd
wife of William Gibson,
Rector of Fawley.
Invites MU conference to York offers advice on
MU divorce petition, Mass Meeting speaker
Alan George Sumner
Gibson, Coadjutor Bishop of
Capetown, 1894-1906
Edward Benson, Archbishop
of Canterbury, 1883-1896 $
Nephew
As above
Hosts to George and Mary at
times of Convocation.
‘Death of Benson a great sorrow a true friend
and advisor’ (GHSDD 70)
Frederick Temple,
Archbishop of Canterbury,
1896-1902 $
Anthony Thorold,
Winchester, 1891-1895
Mrs Beatrice Temple London
MU Diocesan President
‘Archbishop and Mrs Temple carried on the
kind hospitality and friendship ‘(GHSDD 70)
Randall Davidson,
Winchester 1895-1903,
Archbishop of Canterbury,
1903-1928 * $
George Augustus Selwyn 1st
Bishop of New Zealand,
18411,Lichfield, 1867-1878
Served by George as
Suffragan Bishop
Read prayer at George’s funeral.
Served by George as
Suffragan Bishop
Davidson advisor to MU central committee
Mrs Edith Davidson MU Central President for
London and MU Vice President
(GHSDD 147)
Tutor to George at Eton
Kin including by marriage are represented by bold type; Friends and Associates in italic;
Connection to the MU or GFS is marked* and $ indicates marriage to a woman active in
the Mother’s Union. (GHSDD) indicates Mary Sumner’s memoir George Henry Sumner DD
Bishop of Guildford.
The following figure (Figure 1) represents the connections on which Mary Sumner
drew in forwarding the MU.119 These links both fed into and expanded (through
space and time) from the MU as Mary Sumner deployed varieties of networking
strategy.
119
Data from Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner; MU, Fifty Years. MU/CO/PRES;
Winchester Diocesan MU.
107
Figure1: Mary Sumner’s Expanding Network Connections
Royal patrons
Archbishops
Queen Victoria
Queen Alexandra
Mary Princess of
Wales
Duchess of Connaught
Duchess of Albany
Princess Beatrice
Cosmo Lang York
Bishops’ wives
Emily Wilberforce
Elizabeth
Harold Browne
Princess Christian
Lady Horatia Erskine
Benson
Temple
Randall
Ernest Wilberforce
Harold Browne
Bickersteth
Maclagan
Portal, Montagu
Laura Ridding
Ladies
Atlay
MU
Mary Sumner
Ellen Joyce
Eleanor Chaloner
Chute
Sophia Wickham
Samuel Wilberforce
George
Convocation
Charlotte Yonge
GFS
BWEA
Alwyne Compton
Bishops
CETS
Mary Sumner’s Expanding Network Connections:
Church Congresses
kin
Charles Sumner
John Bird Sumner
Louisanna Gibson
Louisa Gore Browne
The MU was not immediately a fully structured body (unlike the GFS). For several
years it was instigated on the initiative of interested women, for whom Mary
Sumner was the contact, securing authorisation by their influence on local clergy:
‘Branches are started not by the voting of a majority who may possibly be half
hearted but by the Enrolling member who consults with the incumbent and then
has a meeting to explain the objects’.120 Porter, Woodward and Erskine note the
enthusiasm of women activists adopting Mary Sumner’s vision. ‘Very rapidly other
dioceses followed the lead given by Winchester and they generally accepted the
Winchester organisation’.121 The keystone of the ‘work’ was at parish level. The
Hampshire Chronicle reported a typical meeting which combined a social event
with communicating the message of the MU:
OTTERBOURNE Mothers’ Meeting - On Tuesday last Miss Yonge entertained
about 60 ‘mothers of young children’ at tea in the school room. After the
tables had been cleared a meeting was held, at which an earnest and
120
Mary Sumner, Letter Concerning Misconceptions on the Mothers' Union: LPL MU Box
452A 14, to Mrs Maude, surmised date 1910-14.
121
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 107. Each Diocese had a president,
‘presiding members’ for each rural deanery and enrolling Associates who headed parish
branches.
108
impressive address was delivered by Mrs Sumner, wife of the Archdeacon
of Winchester.122
Practices of the MU at local level included:
...holding periodical meetings which are addressed by various ladies on the
objects of the union generally, lectures are given under its auspices on
questions of health and sanitation: classes are held on Sunday afternoons
for the religious instruction of members so that they may be able to impart
religious teaching to their children.123
Mary Sumner also deployed printed materials as a field manoeuvre in her
pedagogic work to promote the MU. The sense of collective union advocated by
Mary Sumner was fostered by issuing pamphlets, many written by Mary Sumner
and included with her correspondence.124 The MU magazine, The Mothers’ Union
Journal, was conceived as a newsletter from Mary Sumner to all members.
Published initially in leaflet form in 1888, by the following year it had a circulation
of 46,000.125 MU identity was also promoted through the use of a logo designed
by Heywood Sumner (c.1888) and later a brooch produced under Mary Sumner’s
close supervision (1909).126
By 1892, the Winchester Diocesan Committee, invested with authority as the first
MU organisation and home diocese of the ‘Foundress’, resolved that a central
organisation and constitution were desirable to promote cohesion between
dioceses and to ease the burden on Mary Sumner. Negotiations towards this
commenced with the establishment, in 1893, of a Committee of Presidents but it
took another three years to centralise the MU formally.127 However, by 1896 a
formal constitution enabled the MU to take a corporate stand as representative of
a body of opinion on issues perceived to relate to morality and family life.
122
Hampshire Chronicle, ‘Otterbourne Mothers Meeting’, Hampshire Chronicle, 13 Feb.
1886.
123
Hearth and Home, ‘Leading Societies and Their Work: The Mothers' Union’, Hearth and
Home an Illustrated Weekly Journal for Gentlewomen, 28 Jan. 1892.
124
Mary Sumner, Letter to Mrs Crawford, 19 June 1917: HRO WDMU 145M85/A12; Letter
to 'My Dear Marion' ( Basdell), 23 Dec (Surmised) 1916:HRO WDMU 145M85/A11.
125
MU, Fifty Years, 10-12. 'Practically all the dioceses adopted [...] a Diocesan Cover for
local news', published quarterly - it sold 8,000 in 1888.
126
Mary Sumner, Letter to Mrs Maude Concerning Lady Hillingdon's Drawing Room
Meeting, 23 Feb. 1909: LPL Box 452/4, Written from Bournemouth 23 Feb 1909.
127
MU. Minute Book: LPL MU/CC/1/1; Erskine, ‘ A History of the Mothers' Union’.
109
The following figure (Figure 2) indicates the three main ways that Mary Sumner
communicated her aims and encouraged support for her organisation, broadly
within the field of religion, but with some overlap into the field of education via
publications: power is also as represented by royalty and archbishops, who are
located towards the top of the figure.128 The figure also seeks to represent a
trajectory of movement from closer contacts socially and geographically outwards
in space and over time.
Figure 2: Mary Sumner’s Strategies for Promoting the MU and its Aims
Other
organisations
Royalty
Evidence to
Divorce
Commission
Overseas
Petition
Bishops
Archbishops
Laymen of influence
Watch Committee
Individuals
and
branches
Speakers
Speaking
Letters
Central Council and Committee
Meetings
MU annual
conference
Mass Meetings
Mothers’ in Council
Clergy and
clergy wives
Mothers’
Union Journal
Mary Sumner
Diocesan
conferences
Drawing room
meetings
The Times
Publications
Parish mothers’
meetings
Ladies
Church Congresses
Logo
Banners
brooches
Books
Other authors
Charlotte Yonge
Laura Ridding
St Paul’s Service
Other publications
Monthly Packet
English Woman’s
Journal
Reports of Church
Congresses
Mary Sumner and the Mothers’ Union:
Strategies for Promoting the Organisation and its Aims
Mary Sumner continued to personify the MU after centralisation and its
campaigns on divorce, secular education and temperance reflect her views.129 She
served as its Central President until 1909 and remained as the Winchester
Diocesan President until 1915. Her intervention in the policies and practices of the
128
Data Mary Sumner Her Life and Work and a Short History of the Mothers’ Union; LPL
MU/CO/PRES/ and MU/MSS/; HRO WDMU Committee Minute Book 145/M85/C2/2; HRO
Selborne Collection; Mothers’ Union, Fifty Years; The Monthly Packet; The MUJ, MIC and
The English Woman’s Journal.
129
Sumner, ‘Marriage I.’ Home Life: 9-17 ; Sumner, ‘Secular Education.’ MIC, October 1894;
Sumner, ‘Temperance' Home Life: 66-74.
110
MU and her strategy of canvassing support both within and beyond MU
membership, continued regardless of not holding office.130
Mary Sumner was, despite her stature in the MU, obliged to compromise over the
issue of revised membership cards. Her letters to her friend Minnie, Lady
Addington, in 1910 and again in 1912, reveal her distress: ‘I am so grieved at all
the discussion and varying opinions about the card it is really a great trial to me
and I long for peace concerning it’.131 It was unusual for Mary Sumner to reveal
feelings that were less than positive or to show weakness. Her disappointment
(expressed in 1912) that the MU ‘has not gripped London’ was to be kept ‘strictly
private’.132 However, her programme of travelling and speaking for the MU at
large scale meetings affirmed the esteem in which she was regarded by members.
She was greeted with a standing ovation at the 1908 Mass Meeting in the Albert
Hall and at the York MU Conference in 1913. After an extensive tour of northern
towns her visit was likened to a royal progress.133 A time line showing Mary
Sumner’s activism and the durability of her involvement in the MU in relation to
its corporate development is included as Appendix 1- Mary Sumner and her
Mothers’ Union: her activities and corporate development.
Mary Sumner’s key field manoeuvre for promoting her organisation was
mobilising agents whose class affiliation and allegiance to Anglicanism reflected a
group habitus in which notions of social and religious capital were recognised
collectively. She drew on individual agents invested with social capital and
pedagogic authority (possessed by virtue of social status, philanthropic activism,
marital association, or as holders of office within the Church) initially amongst her
circle, to give authority to the MU. The notion of capital by association (forwarded
through Mary Sumner’s field manoeuvres: speeches, publications and notably
correspondence) not only endorsed the message and status of the organisation
130
‘Letters to Lady Chichester’, sent between 1909-1911; Letters to Mrs Wilberforce: LPL
MU/CO/PRES/5/7, sent between 1916-20; ‘Letters to Mrs Maude’, 1909-1921.
131
Letter to 'Dearest Minnie' Concerning Revision of Mothers' Union Constitution 14
April1910: LPL MU/CO/PRES/5/1. 'Naturally I would prefer the cards we have always had.';
Letter to 'Dearest Minnie' Concerning Revision of the Mothers' Union Cards 1912: LPL
MU/CO/PRES/5/1.
132
Letter to Mrs Maude on the Mothers' Union in London Failing to Reach Educated
Mothers 28 Sep. 1917: LPL MU/CO/PRES/5/3.
133
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 52, 71-72.
111
but served to make it attractive to an extended network of activists and a wider
membership. As the revered ‘Foundress’ of the MU Mary Sumner was a
beneficiary of this spiral of increasing capital.
The Mothers’ Union as an Anglican organisation: women
in the Church, capital and field manoeuvres
The adoption of the MU as a diocesan organisation can be attributed to the
clerical circle in which the Sumners moved. It also reflects wider recognition by
senior churchmen, which the instigation of the GFS and the inclusion of a
women’s section at the Portsmouth Church Conference (1885) illustrate, that
women had a pastoral role in the ministry of the church.134 Although according to
scripture, it was ‘a shame for women to speak in the church’ (1 Corinthians 3. 5), it
was considered appropriate, like Dorcas, ‘to be full of good works’ (Acts 10. 36).
This position was demonstrated by the favourable attitude of the Sumners and
Heywoods to female participation in parochial work and philanthropy. While
excluding women from institutional power, this gendered stance exploited
women’s contributions to religious life as, in the words of George Sumner,
‘handmaids of the church’.135 Mary Sumner drew on this recognition of capital to
claim pedagogic authority in her field manoeuvres to secure the position of the
MU as a recognised body within the (Anglican) religious field.
Porter, Woodward and Erskine’s account of the 1885 Portsmouth Conference, at
which Mary Sumner made her first public Church Conference speech, illustrates
the negotiation of authority by women speakers. They report Emily Wilberforce’s
account of her husband’s [Bishop Ernest Wilberforce] ‘inspiration’ in asking a
woman to address women and which emphasised Mary Sumner’s reluctance to
speak until given authority by him.136 Mary Sumner’s own account also claimed
male authorisation: ‘my dear husband was not in the hall but I knew he would
approve’ [of her speaking].137 She was not the only woman to speak at the
134
Gill, Women and the Church of England, 131-145.
George Sumner, ‘Speech to the Annual G.F.S. Diocesan Conference at the George Hotel
Winchester’, Girls' Friendly Society Associates Journal, January 1885.
136
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 21.
137
Sumner, ‘Founding'.
135
112
conference. Although Mr Townsend spoke about the GFS on behalf of his wife;
Ellen Joyce, as a widow no longer subject to the authority of her husband,
delivered her own paper on emigration.138
The notion that religious authority was unwomanly was rooted in scripture and
the interpretation of St Paul.139 The Pauline position derived from Genesis and
woman’s secondary creation from Adam’s rib as his companion. Further, because
of her susceptibility to temptation, woman was responsible for loss of innocence
and sin ‘Adam was not deceived but the woman being deceived was in
transgression’ (Timothy 2. 14). Charlotte Yonge wrote in 1877: ‘I have no
hesitation in declaring my full belief in the inferiority of woman, nor that she
brought it upon herself’.140 Mary Sumner, likewise, misrecognised the legitimacy
of gendered Anglican doctrine and affirmed her agreement that women should
‘be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children. To be discreet, chaste,
keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be
not blasphemed’, by using this Biblical quotation as a subheading to a written
address.141 She upheld paternal authority as divinely ordained:
Home life is a monarchy the husband and father is the sovereign of the
small realm- he and his wife together wield a sceptre of divine power – the
exercise of this power in the human father is intended to express and typify
in each home the greater rule of the Almighty.142
Bishop Harold Browne, although progressive in initiating a stipendiary deaconess
in his Ely diocese in 1869, noted that she should set aside ‘all unwomanly
usurpation of authority in the church’.143 In 1890, there was still a guarded
reaction to women’s activism. At the Hull Church Conference, Archdeacon Emery:
138
Ibid.; Coombs, George and Mary Sumner, 82; Church of England, ‘Official Report of the
Church Congress Held at Portsmouth’, (London: Church of England, 1885), 449.
139
Gill, Women and the Church of England, 15.
140
Charlotte M. Yonge, Womankind (London: Walter Smithand Innes, 1898), 1.
141
Sumner, ‘Mothers' Work Outside the Home’, Home Life. 127-137. The biblical reference
heading the chapter is Titus 2, 3, 4,5.
142
‘To Husbands and Fathers ‘.
143
Knight, The Nineteenth Century Church, 197, notes Harold Browne’s appointment of
full time stipendiary deaconess Fanny Elizabeth Eagles and quotes from his 1869 Charge to
the Clergy of the Diocese of Ely which articulated the duties of the deaconess thus: – ‘to
seek out poor and impotent folk and intimate their names to the curate, instruct the
young in school or otherwise, minister to those in hospitals and setting aside all
unwomanly usurpation of authority in the church, should seek to edify the souls of Christ’s
people in the faith’.
113
...wanted to speak in favour not of special societies, or guilds, or
sisterhoods, or deaconesses, but in favour of the old district visiting
system [...] What they wanted was the clergyman’s wife to feel she was
one with her husband.144
Speaking on the same platform, Mary Sumner was respectful of the paternal
authority vested in both family and Church:
It must be self-evident that the Mothers’ Union is a work of women to
women, of mothers to mothers and that we could hardly summon fathers
of all ranks and classes, as well as mothers to our meetings we should be
considered presumptuous and impertinent if we were to do so. It would be
outside our province as women.145
She was, however, ‘deeply grateful to clergymen and laymen who are helping us’
and drew on the pedagogic authority of churchmen.146 Following the initial
adoption of the MU in Winchester, Mary Sumner (according to Porter, Woodward
and Erskine), ‘wrote personally to most of the Diocesan Bishops, explaining the
aims of the new venture and asking for their approval and support’. She also
made use of her husband’s position as Archdeacon and accompanied him on
parish visits as a means of promoting the MU.147 Ways to encourage the
endorsement of clergy at parish level were discussed at Diocesan Committee
meetings and in MU publications disseminated amongst clergy wives and Rural
Deaneries.148
Mary Sumner’s preference for the doctrinal beliefs of the Anglican Church was
evident in her writing. In 1888, she urged Mothers of the Higher Classes to uphold
the sacraments of the Church149 and in 1895 she wrote: ‘If Mothers would hope to
fulfil their duty to their children they must not neglect any one of the means of
Grace’.150 The 1876 MU membership card began with the exhortation, ‘Remember
144
‘Record of Events Report of the Church Congress at Hull’, English Woman's Review, 15
Oct. 1890.
145
Sumner, ‘Paper Read at the Church Congress in Hull 1890’.
146
Ibid.
147
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 27, 28.
148
WDMU Committee, Minute Book 1886-1910, WDMU HRO 145/M85/C2/1.
149
To Mothers of the Higher Classes, (Winchester: Warren & Son, 1895), 67.
150
Home Life, 8, The sacraments of Communion and Infant Baptism.
114
that your children are given up body and soul, to Jesus Christ in Holy Baptism’ and
concluded:
If you repent truly of your sins and desire with all your heart to love and
follow the Lord Jesus, come to the Holy Communion and feed on him by
faith, then will your soul be strengthened and refreshed. Jesus said “Do this
in remembrance of Me;” It was his Dying Command.151
Anglican identity was promoted by the insistence that the Subscribing Members
who formed the leadership of the MU at local, diocesan and central level should
be communicants of the Church of England.152 Protestant Nonconformists could
join as ordinary members as long as they accepted the sacrament of infant
baptism.153 MU practice drew on the forms and language of the Church to
substantiate its claims to pedagogic authority,154 although it did not, in keeping
with its misrecognition of the superiority of paternal clerical authority, engage
with intellectual theological debate.155 Enrolment into the MU involved a ritual
prayer and used a question and answer format reminiscent of the catechism and
was conducted either by a clergyman in church or an Enrolling Member.156 Annual
services were held from 1888 in Winchester and Annunciation day (March 25th),
an anniversary marked in the Church calendar, was adopted by the Central
Council, in 1897, as a ‘Day of Prayer and Thanksgiving’.157 MU speakers took
platforms at Church Conferences and territory was also claimed through the
display of banners in parish churches. In a letter dated 1915, Mary Sumner
expressed her view that: ‘the Mothers’ Union ought to have its centre in the
Church House - it is one of the most important of the Church organisations’.158
Porter, Woodward and Erskine illustrate the association of the MU with the
Church by noting bishops as diocesan patrons and clergy officiating at MU
151
Ibid., 6, Members card original wording.
Subscribing members were ‘ladies’ drawn from upper/middle class who paid a
subscription to MU funds. Other members were not required to subscribe.
153
Home LIfe, 4.
154
Ibid., 7-8.
155
Moyse, History of the Mothers' Union, 59, discusses Higher Criticism and Theology
referenced to MU Annual conference 1896 re Mary Sumner’s views as in accord with
mainstream Anglican liberal thought.
156
To Mothers of the Higher Classes, 66.
157
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 109.
158
Sumner, ‘Letters to Lady Chichester’, 20 Oct 1915.
152
115
services.159 Mary Sumner sought the presence of ‘powerful’ clerics and laymen
invested with pedagogic authority to endorse the MU message at conferences
and mass meetings.160 The success of field manoeuvres to secure the MU’s
recognition as a Church body is demonstrated by the instigation of an annual
service at St Paul’s Cathedral161 and in the 1917 opening of the central
headquarters by the Bishop of London.162 Seven bishops under the leadership of
the Archbishop of Canterbury officiated at the Jubilee celebrations in 1926.163
The MU treated landmarks in family life as occasions for religious thanksgiving
and in the case of prominent figures, adopted them as shared corporate events
that were reported in MU publications.164 Mary Sumner’s golden wedding
anniversary was celebrated with Eucharist and afterwards ‘a large gathering was
assembled by the Diocesan Council of the Mothers’ Union, at the palace of
Wolvesey, whereat the Bishop and Mrs Sumner were the honoured guests’. The
following day a special service in the Cathedral and ‘tea under an enormous tent’
was attended by 1200 Diocesan MU members.165 The Sumners’ diamond wedding
was also celebrated with the presentation of a screen endorsed with royal
signatures.166 Death and bereavement amongst prominent officials in the
organisation and in the royal family were also treated as occasions for public
recognition.167
In working to secure the recognition of the MU as a Church organisation, Mary
Sumner avoided assertions contrary to notions of gendered patriarchal authority
legitimised by the Church and embedded in social practice. She built on the
recognition by individual clergymen that women could contribute to the
159
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 108.
Sumner, ‘Letters to Lady Chichester'. ' Some poweful men speakers [...] Would the
Bishop of London help or the Bishop of Southwell who is a warm friend of mine? [...] A
good powerful layman should be chosen.'
161
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 110.
162
Ibid., 78.
163
Mothers' Union, Fifty Years, 50-52.
164
Mary Sumner, Letter to Mrs Maude Thanking Her for Birthday Wishes, 4 Jan. 1919: LPL
MU/CO/PRES/4. Mary Sumner wishes her birthday greeetings and her response to be
published in the MUJ.
165
Memoir of George Sumner, 138-143; Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 4243. Second MU London President Horatia Erskine also had her golden wedding marked by
the Society, 126.
166
Memoir of George Sumner, 151-153; Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 53.
167
Mary Sumner, 70, 110, 158.
160
116
pedagogic action of the Church through field manoeuvres which identified the MU
with its spaces, ritual and language.168 She sought further endorsement from its
highest officials, invested with pedagogic authority, as speakers, celebrants and
advisers. Her organisation also asserted domestic celebrations (notably her own
wedding anniversaries) as indicative of religious capital because they
commemorated successful upholding of the religious sacrament of marriage.
Thus, not only did the MU speak for the Church but the Church spoke for and
sanctified the MU and thereby endowed the women speaking on its behalf with
pedagogic authority.
The province of women: marriage, motherhood, morality, the
symbolic capital of purity
Women’s authority was vested in their upholding of the Christian construction of
what were deemed desirable womanly qualities; raising children, nurturing family
life and demonstrating piety and self-restraint.169 According to Mary Sumner, a
good mother ‘shines like a light in this dark world. She receives the flame straight
from Christ Himself- she reflects His Image. Husband, children and neighbours rise
up and call her blessed’.170 The inception of the Diocesan MU occurred after Mary
Sumner had demonstrably discharged her duties as mother and wife. Her three
children were married (Margaret Effie 1872, Louisa 1882 and Heywood 1883)171
and between 1851 and 1885 she had ‘entered fully into the life of the village’ by
taking a mothers’ meeting, a meeting for married men, training the choir, acting
as Church organist and leading a branch of the GFS.172 Mary Sumner had also
accrued social capital as her husband’s hostess and helpmeet in what she termed
‘The Social Life’ of the district.173
168
Bourdieu and Passeron, Reproduction, Cultural Capital and Paedagogic Communication,
71-106.
169
Mary Sumner, ‘In Memoriam Mrs Wordsworth’, MIC 1894. Mary Sumner enumerates
these virtues as exemplified by Mrs Wordsworth; Sumner, Life of C. R. Sumner, 324;
Sumner, Memoir of George Sumner, 12; Heywood and Heywood, Reminiscences, 45;
Sumner, ‘Early Life’.
170
To Mothers of the Higher Classes, 57.
171
Sumner, ‘Memorials’; Sumner, Memoir of George Sumner, 135.
172
Memoir of George Sumner, 16, 17.
173
Ibid., 23-25.
117
Mary Sumner assumed marriage and motherhood as a desirable destiny for
women and the role of woman was little differentiated from that of mother.174
Unmarried woman could act in a motherly role by contributing to the
management and ethos of ‘The Home’ or performing gendered duties associated
with the home sphere, such as education or philanthropic activity. ‘Mothers work
often devolves on unmarried women; we have many married women without
children in our Mothers’ Union and good unmarried who are mothering children
as Godmothers or Guardians’.175 In conflating womanhood with motherhood,
Mary Sumner was in accord with clerical authority. For Bishop Thorold, quoted in
an undated MU leaflet, ‘maiden aunts are the human angels of childhood [...] if
she is not a mother she had yet the motherly heart which is womanhood’s
priceless possession’.176
Mary Sumner’s promotion of motherhood as a spiritual educative vocation
reflected her experience of maternal influence and the home as a site for living
religion. She considered that children should be reverenced as the handiwork of
the Creator: ‘The child has a soul, that soul will live forever. God gives to each
little child a conscience - a religious instinct and the wish to love and serve him.
Our duty is to cultivate this divine instinct and train our children for the battle of
life’.177
Mary Sumner’s 1876 card for mothers (Table 3) recalled her own use, as a young
woman, of a personal prompt card to as an aid to spiritual endeavour.178 The card
for mothers urged church attendance, bible study and family prayer and
instructed mothers to teach their children to be ‘truthful, obedient and pure’.179
For Mary Sumner, this involved protecting them from the loss of innocence
caused by bad companions and temptations such as drink. The card noted: ‘You
are strongly advised never to give your children beer, wine or spirits without the
174
Yeo, ‘Some Contradictions of Social Motherhood’.
Mary Sumner, Letter to Mrs Sharme, 15 Dec. 1911: LPL MU/PRES/BOX452/4.
176
C. M. Hallett, The Mothers' Union, How It May Be Furthered in a Parish by Associates:
LPL MU/PM/6/1; Yonge, The Two Sides of the Shield. This novel features the GFS. It
describes two good women the mother and Aunt Jane unmarried but maternal through
her GFS work.
177
Mary Sumner, ‘A Mother's Greatest Duty’ (London: Mothers' Union, n.d.).
178
Anecdote reported in Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 13-14.
179
Sumner, Home Life, 6, 7.
175
118
Doctor’s orders or to send them to the public house’.180 In an 1895 address Mary
Sumner warned that: ‘Bad people often give beer or spirits to young girls in order
to ruin them’.181 The MU card also advised that ‘Blasphemy, coarse jests and
slander’ were to be avoided as were ‘bad books’ and material dealing with what
were considered to be scandalous topics.182 In Mary Sumner’s view, these were
not only an incentive to vice but would corrupt the national as well as individual
character.183
Purity as a desirable attribute, particularly (but not exclusively) for women, was
understood to mean, above all else, chastity. Rule IV on the MU card made
explicit the need to protect the chastity of girls before marriage and to ‘keep them
from the streets and lanes at night, unprotected’.184 Mary Sumner’s lengthy
elaboration on virginity demonstrates her prioritisation of this capital attribute:
[Mary Sumner’s punctuation and italics]
Tell her [the daughter] what a priceless jewel it is; which once lost or
spoiled can never be regained other things when lost or spoiled may be
made good, but a girl’s character never; once lost it is lost forever; the girl
may repent and by the mercy of our Saviour she may be forgiven, she may
do her utmost to retrieve her character, but she can never be the same; her
innocence is gone, gone forever: she may marry; she may be a good wife
and mother; but she can never be in God’s sight or in man’s sight, or in her
own sight, what she was in the happy days of her innocence. Therefore dear
friends warn your girls and warn them in time.185
The GFS was equally concerned to secure the symbolic capital of an elevated
standard of womanhood for its members. Central Rule Three (1875) stated: ‘No
girl who has not borne a virtuous character to be admitted; such a character being
lost, the Member to forfeit her Card.’ This was not entirely uncontested, as Agnes
Money notes in commenting on the challenge to GFS recruitment posed by this
high standard:
180
Ibid., 6. The wording for ‘poorer mothers’ was ‘in accordance with their different state
of life [...] no lady would be tempted to send her child to the public-house’.
181
‘Temperance’, 70.
182
Home Life, 6.
183
Letter to the Editor The Times 'Improper Books', December 9th 1909; Mary E. Sumner,
Horatia E. Erskine and Emily Wilberforce, Letter to the Editor The Times 'Undesirable
Literature', January 13th 1910.
184
Sumner, Home Life, 6; Members' card Rule 4.
185
‘Discipline’, 80; ‘Letters to Lady Chichester’.
119
There had been in some minds strong objections to Central Rule Three as
unchristian, as likely to foster a pharisacial spirit in its members. These
objections seemed to be dying out and it seemed to be very generally
acknowledged that a national society on any other basis would not be the
least the same power for good and could not create that public opinion
which is such a safeguard to those classes in which it exists and the absence
of which, in too many communities of the working classes has left their girls
so much exposed to temptation.186
Mary Sumner had no doubts about the value of chastity. In her capacity as Vice
President of the Diocesan GFS she ‘spoke strongly on the injuries done to the
Society by the admission of those who would bring it into disrepute. It should be
looked upon as an honour to belong, rather than as an institution for the training
of rough girls’.187 The importance of individual members upholding the collective
reputation of the Society was also emphasised in the MU. Mary Sumner noted:
In many branches an excellent rule has been made that no mother can be
admitted who has only been married to her husband before a registrar [...]
and it is needless to say that no unmarried mother could ever be a Member
of the Society.188
Moreover ‘no person should be admitted, who is known to be living in open sin,
or causing gossip’.189 The following rule from the Organisation Leaflet, which Mary
Sumner quoted in the preface to her 1895 Home Life, noted that: ‘if any Member
or Associate persists in breaking the rules, or causes a scandal, it may be
necessary to ask them to return their card and remove their name from the
lists.190 Individual reputation contributed to, as well as drew from, collective
symbolic capital.
Mary Sumner’s view that Christian marriage legitimised sexual relations was
reflected in MU literature.191 In 1895, she envisaged marriage as a ‘mystical union
186
Money, History of the Girls’ Friendly Society, 18-19. ‘But now the difficulty arose in a
fresh form as the work of the GFS took root in some of the large towns where the
standard of morality was at an exceptionally low ebb and where constant changes of
residence made the difficulty of knowing the past character of girls. - I will not refer to this
... for it leads to the sundering of friends and the hindering of work’.
187
Sumner, ‘Vice Presidential Speech to the G.F.S. Diocesan Conference at the George
Hotel'.
188
WDMU Committee, ‘Minute Book 1886-1910’, 21 Nov. 1890. 'In the case of immorality
it would be best if the member resign her card'.
189
Sumner, Home Life, 4-7.
190
Ibid., 5.
191
‘Example’, Home Life. 93-99.
120
instituted of God in the time of man’s innocency, signifying unto us the bond that
is between Christ and His Church’. Her view references Ephesians, 5. 21 and the
Anglican marriage service that sanctified marriage as a transition from innocence
which safeguarded the reputation of women. For Mary Sumner, ‘The first
wedding was that of Adam and Eve and God himself married them in the Garden
of Eden and started Home Life.’192 Thus marriage was a bond of ‘the deepest
solemnity’.193 Marriage as ‘the result of a marketable transaction also called a
satisfactory match’ could not be considered a true bond.194 It was not ‘a mere
contract to end at will, when either party grows tired of the other, or when there
is unkindness and quarrelling and incompatibility of temper’.195 The vow of
marriage was ‘absolute, irrevocable, [and] indissoluble’.196 An undated leaflet
produced by the London Diocesan MU noted: ’the whole position of women
stands or falls with the sanctity of marriage and the respect due to family life'.197
Mary Sumner believed that the divine institution of marriage upheld social order
and she was concerned that: ‘the sanctity of marriage is being undermined and
trifled with by the increasing number of divorce cases and attacks made on
marriage by certain writers of the day’.198 ‘We all know how seriously the Divorce
Act of 1857 has sapped the foundations of family life [...] It is causing the
degradation of parents, widespread misery and cruel injury to the character
training of children’.199 She saw this as ‘flooding the country with immorality’
which would lead to ‘fatal results’ in national as well as home life.200
For Mary Sumner notions of desirable womanly capital were predicated on the
mis/recognition of the legitimacy of the prevailing gendered religious doxa which
assumed, in accord with prevailing social practice, that marriage and motherhood
was the appropriate role for women. Women as ‘spiritual mothers’ could
demonstrate their possession of symbolic religious capital by demonstrating piety
192
‘Marriage I’, 11.
Ibid., 12.
194
‘To Husbands and Fathers ‘.
195
‘Marriage I’, 2-4.
196
Ibid., 12.
197
Mrs Maude, ‘Leaflet Number 4 for Subscribing Members’, ed. Diocese of London
Mothers' Union (n.d.).
198
Sumner, ‘Marriage I’, 13.
199
‘The Home’ (Winchester: Warren and Sons, n.d).– 9d a dozen 2/6 for fifty post free.
200
Ibid.
193
121
through prayer, church attendance and in encouraging children in Bible study.
Capital was also to be acquired by protecting children from the sins of
intemperance and blasphemy and in so doing, raising them to uphold religiously
authorised standards of morality. Foremost amongst the capital of the Christian
woman was chastity, which Mary Sumner considered (in common with her coworkers in the GFS and MU) an absolute marker of the capital of women
collectively as well as individually. The possession of this religiously framed
symbolic capital was an essential pillar of the MU claim for pedagogic authority.
Negotiating marriage: the good husband and father, capital assets
and symbolic rewards
Mary Sumner’s view of appropriate relations between men and women in
marriage reflected the gendered Anglican assumption of the divinely ordained
authority of men over women: ‘The husband and Father is the head of the house
his example and influence should be to his family the type and pattern of divine
rule’.201 Yet, her vision of marriage included the Pauline exhortation ‘husbands,
love your wives’ (Colossians 3. 19).202 Mary Sumner saw marriage as a benign
institution for the love, honour, comfort and exclusive status of the wife, who
was, ‘the weaker member and needs sympathy and protection’.203 She envisaged
marriage as a religious partnership: ‘how beautiful is a home where peace and
love prevail, where a married pair are the entire world to each other and live
faithfully under God’s laws’.204 In her 1895 Marriage Address 2, she asserted the
rewards of loving domesticity:
It would be well if husbands and wives could treat each other as they did in
their courting days and try to remain lovers all their lifelong so that love
grows sweeter and stronger, as like Darby and Joan, they walk hand-in hand
down the of hill of life together and prepare for the Home above.205
201
‘To Husbands and Fathers‘.
Ibid., Subheading ‘To Husbands’.
203
Ibid., 141.
204
‘Marriage I’, 14.
205
‘Marriage 2’, 24. Mary Sumner’s italics.
202
122
She also advocated prayer as a way for couples to keep their marriage vows in
mind: ‘There are some happy couples who begin the habit of praying together on
their wedding day and have never left off’.206
Mary Sumner was enthusiastic in her advocacy for marriage but it was ‘not the
whole object of life [...] It is better to remain single than to marry unhappily or
unwisely. No woman is justified in joining herself to a man who is victim of a fatal
passion and bringing down misery on her family’.207 She accepted that domestic
life, caring for children and keeping the husband from temptation could be hard
but once married the couple should make the best of their situation: ‘for no two
people can be joined together for life without meeting trials and difficulties [... ]
there is always the need of mutual forbearance’.208 The onus was on the woman
to lead in this by her example. Wives were recommended to avoid nagging and to
counter the ill temper of the husband with ‘sweetness and evenness of
temper’.209 The remedy to marital discord lay in forbearance, civilizing through
example and prayer. Self-restraint should also be exercised in keeping difficulties
private: ‘Beware of ever talking about your husband’s faults to anyone – even
your own mother [...] you can speak to God about them’.210
Despite Mary Sumner’s assertion to a Church Congress audience in 1890 that it
was ‘presumptuous’ to summon fathers (‘of all classes’) to meetings,211 her
actions suggest that she was referring to men other than those from the working
class, which indicates class as a mediating factor in gendered hierarchy. According
to her reminiscence of parochial life between the years 1851-86, she had spoken
(with her husband’s ‘cordial approval’)212 to a parish Bible class of labourers. She
recalled this in a 1917 letter to MU central Secretary Mrs Maude.213 Mary Sumner
also addressed working men in her writings ‘To Husbands’ and ‘To Fathers’ (1895)
206
Ibid., 25.
‘Marriage I’, 17, 18.
208
‘Marriage 2’.
209
Ibid., 20.
210
Ibid., 23.
211
‘Paper Read at the Church Congress in Hull 1890’.
212
Founding’.
213
‘Letter to Mrs Maude, Central Secretary of the Mothers' Union 1917’.
207
123
and the undated pamphlet To Husbands and Fathers.214 She had (gendered) high
expectations for Christian manhood: ‘Boys should be modest and pure quite as
much as girls’.215 In ‘To Fathers’ she asserted that men had a duty of respect, love
and fidelity to their wives and they also had a role as exemplars of religious living
to their children.216 In ‘To Husbands’ she wrote that:
True religion is needed here, which will inspire men with Christian chivalry
and make them good and tender and sympathetic husbands and fathers,
temperate in their habits, providing for the home needs themselves and
placing the wife in her true position in home life - honoured, shielded and
protected.217
This included (especially for the poor man, whose wife lacked the help of
servants) being:
Ready and willing to put his shoulder to the domestic wheel, to cheer with
kind words the suffering weary hearted mother and even through the night
to relieve her sometimes of the fretful baby or the sick child and set things
to rights in the morning before he starts off to work again.218
For Mary Sumner, the good husband and father was domesticated and religious.
The attributes she recognised as capital assets of the Christian man included
sexual continence, temperance and involvement in family prayer. The good father
exemplified these behaviours as a model to his children. Other sources for the
acquisition of symbolic capital lay in providing for the material needs of the
household and treating the wife with courtesy and consideration. The rewards for
conformity to standards of Christian manliness were the symbolic gifts of
companionship and comfort within the domestic circle, respect there and in the
community and the hope of salvation.
214
‘To Husbands’, Home Life. 138-147 ; ‘To Fathers,’ Home Life. 148-160; To Husbands and
Fathers.
215
‘Purity’, Home LIfe: 40-48. 44.
216
‘To Fathers’.
217
‘To Husbands’, 149.
218
Ibid., 150.
124
The patriotic Mothers’ Union: Church, state and claims to
territory in the field of power
Mary Sumner‘s intention that the MU should ‘awaken in Mothers a sense of their
great responsibility [...] in the [religious] training of their boys and girls (the future
fathers and mothers of England)’219 and in so doing ’to reform the morals and
raise the tone of this country through the homes’,220 revealed her belief in the
contribution of women to national life. Mary Sumner’s understanding of women’s
citizenship was predicated on the notion of concern for and participation in
community improvement.221 Whilst focusing on gendered duties rather than the
achievement of civil rights, the emphasis on contribution to social wellbeing,
which Mary Sumner saw as dependent on Christian values and conduct, was a
claim for the recognition of women’s ‘work’ as wives and mothers. It was also an
assertion that public matters overlapped with issues of concern in the home
which permeated the rationale and practice of the MU.
The Established Church of England, which Mary Sumner sought to uphold through
the MU, had a privileged relationship to the state. State and Church power were
personified in the monarch. Authorised by temporal power, Anglicanism, in turn,
legitimated monarch and state by association with divine authority and Christian
values.222 Mary Sumner considered the Christian family as the bulwark of wellordered society. In 1895, she claimed: ‘Every man in the land who is ruling himself
and his home in accordance with the faith and obedience of Christ is a tower of
strength to his country’.223
George Sumner’s remarks at the 1890 Hull Church Conference communicate a
perception that there was a need to promote social cohesion. He claimed that the
MU ‘tends to unite the classes and in these days of social inequality and difficulty,
anything that tends to unite the classes together should certainly be welcomed by
219
Home Life, 10. Objects of the Mothers' Union. In 1902,' England' was replaced by
'Empire'. This will be discussed in the following chapter on mission.
220
Ibid., 4; To Mothers of the Higher Classes, 69. This 1888 work had a similar message.
221
Beaumont, Housewives and Citizens, 4-43, 47-52.
222
Memoir of George Sumner, 5, 62, 85; Sumner, Life of C. R. Sumner, 109, 124.
223
Sumner, ‘To Fathers’, 161.
125
us who have the interests of society at stake’.224 For Mary Sumner this reflected
the notion of respectability in which classes were united by adherence to the
moral and social values endorsed by the Church.225 She illustrated her vision of a
cohesive (but stratified) society with reference to Aesop’s fable of ‘the Body and
its Members’,226 a view that echoed the commitment to ‘faithfulness to
employers’ advocated by the GFS in their 1876 ‘Objects’:227
The connection of every class of society is required to the support and wellbeing of the whole [...]In fact, the union of all classes is necessary to that
maintenance of authority, respect for the public law and stability of
government on which the safety of property to individuals and the
continuance of the national prosperity alike depend.’228
Mis/recognising the legitimacy of social stratification, which advantaged the class
and interests with which she identified, Mary Sumner asserted the social and
spiritual inclusiveness of the MU: ‘Even the poorest mother will remember her life
is of infinite value’.229 For, ‘the mysterious gift of influence is granted to all wives
and mothers in extraordinary measure, rich and poor, educated and
uneducated’.230 Mary Townsend likewise asserted, in 1885, that the GFS was
‘intended to embrace [...] not one class only but any of those maidens of our land
who are bravely going forth to earn their livelihood in different posts of
honourable work’.231 Although, as Charlotte Yonge noted in her 1887 article on
the MU, it was desirable to enrol ‘ladies, farmers’ wives and village trades people,
as well as the poor’,232 this did not mean that social divisions were dismantled.
When travelling, Mary Sumner requested a first class railway ticket for herself,
whilst her maid travelled third class.233 However, competence and loyalty in
servants was regarded as laudable and used to illustrate the virtues and
224
Sumner, ‘Speech to the Annual G.F.S. Diocesan Conference at the George Hotel
Winchester’.
225
Cannadine, Class in Britain, 92-94.
226
Sumner, ‘To Fathers’, 160-161.
227
Girls’ Friendly Society, Object 2
228
Sumner, ‘To Fathers’, 159.
229
Home Life, 1.
230
Ibid., 139, 'Every Member Should be a Worker'.
231
Mary Elizabeth Townsend, ‘Department for Members in Professions’, Girls Friendly
Society Associates Journal February 1885. The GFS faced more difficulties negotiating
status amongst different categories of working women who were sensitive to nuances of
class status - both Societies were rather tentative in relations with the middle classes.
232
Yonge, ‘Conversation on the Mothers' Union’.
233
Sumner, ‘Letter to Mrs Maude, Central Secretary of the Mothers' Union 1917’.
126
(symbolic) rewards of accepting and fulfilling the obligations of one’s (divinely
ordained) place in society, whether high or low. Being a good master was also
recognised as a source of capital.234 Relationships across social strata could be
warm, as Mary Sumner’s correspondence with her former maid illustrates:
‘Dearest B, I am longing to hear about you, how you are and how dear baby is [...]
Ever I am, with love and best wishes, your affectionate as of old, M. E. Sumner’.235
There was an assumption that leadership would follow class divisions. Mary
Sumner’s view was that, ‘reforms come from the head of the body politic and
circulate through the masses’.236 The responsibility of ‘the upper classes’ to set a
good example to social inferiors was a recurring theme in her publications
between 1888 and 1915.237 In To Mothers of the Higher Classes she wrote:
Let me entreat the more educated, more influential women to give a
helping hand in spreading the principles of the Mothers’ Union, each in her
own circle among her equals and among her poorer neighbours. [...] They
must take the ignorant and weaker Mothers by the hand and by prayer and
example teach them how to do their duty by their children.238
Mary Sumner repeated this message in Home Life: ‘Mothers of the Upper Classes
are asked to take their place in the van [...] if they join and act as leaders, it will be
easier to win all sorts and conditions of Mothers to see their responsibility’.239 The
parish meetings of the MU exemplified the patronage assumed by ‘ladies’ for
those within their sphere of influence. Mary Sumner interpreted the response of
her married men’s group as accepting of her class based assumption of authority,
which she recalled in a 1917 letter: ‘I hold that a lady has such power over the
married men - I shall never forget their inborn chivalry to me - they treated me
like a queen. Many were tough looking men’.240 Friend and fellow worker, Lady
Laura Ridding, held similar views. In an address delivered to the 1887
Wolverhampton Church Congress she claimed: ‘The mother owes it to her
234
Memoir of George Sumner, 26, 51-52.
Letters to Marion Basdell ' Bassie' Hutchings Ereaux: HRO WDMU 145M85/A7-11.
Mary Sumner was Godmother to ‘dear baby’.
236
To Mothers of the Higher Classes, 11.
237
Ibid., 12, 13, 15, 17, ‘Letter to Mrs Maude on the Mothers' Union in London Failing to
Reach Educated Mothers, 28 Sep. 1917’; ‘Letter to 'Dearest Minnie' Concerning Revision of
the Mothers' Union Cards, 1912'.
238
To Mothers of the Higher Classes, 57.
239
Home Life, 3.
240
‘Letter to Mrs Maude, Central Secretary of the Mothers' Union 1917’.
235
127
children and her households to teach them […] Character training is her work’.241
At the Exeter Church Congress in 1894, she noted that this responsibility extended
to the workplace where ideally: ‘the girls look up with a happy smile of friendship
as the owner’s wife goes through the rooms where she watches with motherly
Christian care’.242
Mary Sumner’s understanding of class was also embedded in the early MU cards,
which addressed a membership categorised as ‘poorer mothers’ and ‘Mothers of
the Higher Classes’. Their cards had slightly different wording, for ‘no lady would
be tempted to send her child to the public house’.243
Table 3: Wording of Mothers’ Union Cards
Members’ card as used at Old Alresford
from 1876
1. Try, by God’s Help, to make them
truthful, obedient and pure.
2. Never allow coarse jests, bad, angry
words, or low talk in your house. Speak
gently.
3. You are strongly advised never to give
your children beer, wine or spirits, without
the Doctor’s orders, or to send young
people to the public house.
4. Do not allow your girls to go about the
streets at night and keep them from unsafe
companions and from dangerous
amusements.
5. Be careful that your children do not read
bad books or police reports.
6. Set them a good example in word and
deed.
7. Kneel down and pray to God morning
and evening and teach your children to
pray.
8. Try to read a few verses or the bible daily
and come to Church as regularly as
possible.
(Reproduced in Sumner. Home Life, 6,)
Subscribing members’ card original wording
as used from 1886
1. I desire, by God’s help, to make them
truthful, obedient and pure.
2. To watch over their words and to prevent
to the utmost of my power, evil speaking,
slander and gossip in my home.
3. To guard my Children, as far as I can from
frivolous bad, or doubtful companions,
influences or amusements.
4. To be very careful as to the books and
newspapers that they read or which are
seen in the house.
5. To teach them habits of moderation and
self-control and if possible avoid giving
them - beer wine or spirits without the
doctor’s orders.
6. To set them a good example in word and
deed.
7. Pray with them daily
8. To read and explain the Bible and instruct
them in our Holy Christian Faith.
9. To hallow God’s Day and to worship Him
regularly in His House of Prayer.
(This example from HRO Wickham of Binsted
38M49/E7/104. A card retained by Sophia
Wickham a MU Associate c.1894.)
241
Ridding, ‘Home Duties’.
The Guardianship of Working Girls Paper Read to the Church Congress Exeter 1894,
Selborne Papers: HRO 9M68/73/10.
243
Home Life, 6.
242
128
The later publication of magazines (from 1888 and 1891) replicated the
differentiation between these social categories. Class stratification was also
reflected in the distinction made (as noted in 1888 in To Mothers of the Higher
Classes) between Subscribing Associate members and the ‘poorer’ members who
were not obliged to pay.244 In 1895, this was qualified with the amendment,
‘unless they like to’.245 The two tier system followed the approach taken by the
GFS.246 It was not until 1912 that, after some resistance from Mary Sumner, the
MU cards were revised into a single version for all members.247
The MU was slow to adopt democratic processes. Mary Sumner’s undisputed
leadership was acknowledged with her installation as Central President in 1896
and the appointment of her successor, Lady Chichester, in 1910, did not involve
an election. Social status, network contacts and record of service contributed to
the pedagogic authority necessary for leadership and responsibility was presented
as an obligation to be upheld rather than sought for personal aggrandisement.248
The MU (like the GFS) secured royal patronage from Queen Victoria (1897),
Queen Alexandra (1901) and Queen Mary (1910). When writing To Mothers of the
Upper Classes in 1888, Mary Sumner used Queen Victoria and Prince Albert an
example of desirable religious, as well as social capital, to endorse the MU
message: ’their true love and their noble high minded standard of righteous living
[were] a pattern of what married life should be’.249 She also drew on royal
opinions to assert the corrupting effect of reports from the divorce courts:
These cases which must necessarily increase, when the law becomes more
known, fill now almost daily a large portion of the newspapers and are of so
scandalous a character that it makes it almost impossible for the newspaper
to be trusted in the hands of a young lady or boy. None of the worst French
novels, from which careful parents would try to protect their children, can
be as bad as what is daily brought before and lands upon the breakfast
244
To Mothers of the Higher Classes, 66.
Home Life, 4; Heath-Stubbs, Friendships Highway..
246
Money, History of the Girls’ Friendly Society, 4-5.
247
Sumner, ‘Letter to 'Dearest Minnie' Concerning Revision of the Mothers' Union Cards
1912’; Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 129.
248
Mary Sumner, 117, 137, 138, 158.
249
To Mothers of the Higher Classes, 12.
245
129
table of every educated family in England and it is evident must be
pernicious to the public morals of the country.250
Princess Christian of Schleswig-Holstein (Queen Victoria’s third daughter) was
Patron of the MU in the Diocese of London from 1908, gave the MU support as a
speaker and corresponded with Mary Sumner. In the context of opposition to
divorce in 1911 she wrote: ‘Yes I will come and come gladly to a special meeting’.
She also shared Mary Sumner’s view that the leaders of society should set a moral
standard and that sensational publicity was damaging: ‘the good of our class is not
brought before the masses but all our sins, vices, silliness [and] bad manners are
put upon them in very crude colours’.251
Royal patronage (as enumerated in Table 4) endorsed the MU’s definition of itself
as an organisation with interests in upholding national life.252 In a letter to the
Mayoress of Birmingham, written in 1910, Mary Sumner quoted King George V’s
rhetoric to support her claim to the contribution of the work of mothers to
national life: ‘The strength of a nation lies in the homes of its people’.253
Table 4: Royal Patronage of the Mothers’ Union and Girls’ Friendly Society
Royal Patron
Queen Victoria
Queen Alexandra*
Princess Louise, daughter of Queen
Alexandra
Queen Mary
HRH Duchess of Albany Princess Helen*
of Waldbeck m. Leopold, Victoria’s
eighth child, who was a haemophiliac
and d. before the birth of their second
child.
Princess Beatrice* (‘Baby’- the Queen’s
MU
1897
1899 as Princess of Wales 1901 as
Queen
Meets Mary Sumner
GFS
1880-1901
1901
Mass meeting
patron 1920
1899 as Duchess of York then as
Queen 1910
Visitor to Mary Sumner House 1919.
Addressed MU 1911 Winchester
Guildhall on the Duty of Mothers.
Profile in early MUJ
254
Patron of Winchester 1898.
Patron of Isle of Wight 1898.
250
Good Homes and Faithful Marriages, n.d.: LPL MU/MSS/2/8.
Princess Christian of Schleswig Holstein, Letter to Mrs Sumner: LPL MU/CO/PRES/5/6,
n.d surmised 1911 in context of other correspondence on topics discussed in the letter.
252
Data, Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner; Moyse, History of the Mothers'
Union; Mary Heath-Stubbs, Friendship's Highway; LPL MU/CO/PRES/5/5.
253
Mary Sumner, Letter to the Mayoress of Birmingham 13 Dec. 1910: LPL
MU/CO/PRES/5/5.
254
Coombs, George and Mary Sumner, 96, 97.
251
130
9th child and ‘home daughter’) m.
Henry of Battenberg.
th
Princess Christian*Helena 5 child of
Queen Victoria, married Christian of
Schleswig-Holstein in 1866, founder
member of the Red Cross. Her daughter
Princess Helena Victoria founder YWCA
women’s auxiliary.
Guest of Honour at opening days of
Mary Sumner House 1925
1908 Patroness of MU for London.
Opened the first Mary Sumner House
in 1917.
Princess Frederica* of Hanover
Interested by Helen Duchess Of
Albany. 1912 Patroness for the
continent.
Started Biarritz branch of MU.
Patron of the MU army branch from
1895.
Opened Connaught House in
Winchester, a home for exworkhouse girls
1919 visited Mary Sumner House with
Queen Mary.
1925 opened new Mary Sumner
House.
Duchess of Connaught, Louise
th
Margaret, m. to Arthur, 7 child of
Queen Victoria,
Princess Mary (Viscountess Lascelles) d.
of Queen Mary,
‘Working
Associate’ of
Old Windsor
Branch.
Patron of GFS
mass meeting
1920
1902 Vice
Patron as
Princess of
Wales
* signed Mary Sumner’s Diamond Wedding Jubilee screen
The association of temporal and spiritual power was reflected in the Anglican
Church’s endorsement of the army, which was symbolised in the ceremonial
blessing of regimental colours.255 When officiating at such a ceremony in 1886
George Sumner said: ‘it would be an evil day when Christianity was supposed to
be separated from the military profession [...] the true soldier of the Queen might
be a true servant of the King and Lord of Lords’.256 The MU established Army
Branches (1894) and later in 1918 Navy Branches, which were instrumental in
spreading the organisation overseas.257 The MU demonstrated its overt patriotism
by publishing leaflets to support recruitment to the armed services in 1914.258
Mary Sumner was in no doubt of the religious justification for fighting the
Germans (1914-18) nor was she alone in holding this view.259 She also saw the war
255
See Chadwick, The Victorian Church Part 2, 1860-1901, 328-342; Sumner, Life of C. R.
Sumner, 293-294; Sumner, Memoir of George Sumner, 61, 125.
256
Ibid.,62.
257
Moyse, History of the Mothers' Union, 80; Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary
Sumner, 145.
258
Mothers' Union, ‘To British Mothers: How They Can Help Enlistment’, (London:
Mothers' Union, 1914); ‘Brave Women’, (London: Mothers' Union, 1914); Heath-Stubbs,
Friendships Highway, 91-105. The GFS was also patriotic and supported the war effort in
practical ways, see Chapter XII 'The Motherland's call to the Pilgrims'.
259
Sumner, ‘Letter to Mrs Crawford 19 June 1917’; Lady Horatia Erskine, Letter to Mrs
Sumner, 18 Aug. 1918: LPL MU/CO/PRES/5/5; Ridding, ‘The War Chronicles Part I, 1914’.
131
as a stimulus towards religious belief,260 but feared the effect of wartime
conditions on the morals of girls.261 Her assertion that victory should be earned by
moral rectitude and advocacy for a day of national humiliation, reflected her
belief that Protestant Christianity was integral to national identity and that it was
legitimising of and contributory to its power and authority.262
Traditionally, the Anglican Church was associated with conservative political
values.263 George Sumner described himself as a conservative ‘of a somewhat
liberal type’ and insisted ‘it was not the wish of the Church simply to vote Tory
[clergy were] churchmen first politicians second’.264 There were nevertheless
occasions when Church (and MU) interests overlapped with divisions of opinion
on party political lines. Moves to disestablish the Church in Wales from 1895,
which were opposed locally by George Sumner in Winchester and nationally by
the MU, were associated with Liberal party policy.265 The secularisation of
education, so feared by Mary Sumner and which was the subject of her address
‘Secular Education’, 266 was similarly associated with the Liberal party.267 However,
despite this (and the presence in the membership of women of Tory opinions,
including Laura Ridding and notably Ellen Joyce, a stalwart supporter of the
Conservative Primrose League) the MU was not an overtly party political
organisation.268
In acting upon Mary Sumner’s ‘call for national intercessions’ in moral issues
(1912) the MU engaged in field manoeuvres designed to influence government
260
Sumner, ‘Letter to 'My Dear Marion' (A.K.A Basdell) 23 Dec. (Surmised) 1916’; ‘Letter to
Mrs Crawford, 19 June 191?’; ‘Letter to Mrs Sharme’.
261
Letter to Dearest Edith (Randall): LPL MU/CO/5/5.
262
‘Letters to Lady Chichester’, 2 July 1915. 'Until the Nation humbles itself and turns to
God we cannot expect Victory and Peace. Do you think a universal day of humiliation can
be arranged?'
263
Chadwick, The Victorian Church Part 2, 1860-1901, 332.
264
Memoir of George Sumner, 128.
265
Ibid., 128-130. George Sumner's speech at the anti Welsh Church disestablishment
meeting in Winchester.
266
Her fears were prompted initially by the introduction of non-denominational Board
Schools in 1870. This will receive further attention in the chapter on education.
267
Sumner, ‘Secular Education’.
268
Moyse, History of the Mothers' Union, 67, 72-76. Acording to Moyse it engaged in
political action on the understanding that moral issues were at stake; Lady Laura Ridding.
Diaries, 6 July 1919: 9M68/68. Selborne Papers, HRO Entry for 6th July 1919; Julia Bush,
Women against the Vote: Female Anti-Suffragism in Britain (Oxford: Oxford University
Press, 2007), 134-135.
132
policy.269 It campaigned against the legalisation of marriage to the ‘Deceased
Wife’s Sister’ (1902),270 increasing secularisation of education (1902 and 1906),271
relaxation of divorce law (1903, 1908-12, 1917, 1921)272 and the ‘Disestablishment
of our Dear Anglican Church in Wales’ (1911).273 Field manoeuvres also sought to
recruit public opinion to support the MU position on other social and moral
issues. The MU opposed the ‘White Slave trade’ (1912),274 the ‘threat of
Mormonism’ (1911),275 anti-Christian ‘Socialist’ Sunday Schools (1912)276 and ‘bad
books’.277 It responded to concerns over the increase of drinking amongst women
with the appointment, in 1917, of Mrs Russell (the daughter of Emily and Ernest
Wilberforce) as Temperance Correspondent. It was in favour of legislation
intended to increase the age of consent (1910).278
Consistent with the emphasis on women’s citizenship as service to society rather
than seeking rights, the MU avoided the issue of suffrage.279 Mary Sumner was
not an enthusiast. She considered that caring for children gave women a more
exalted status than the achievement of political rights.280 Her friend, Lady Horatia
Erskine, agreed.281 Even Laura Ridding, a committed suffragist, expressed
reservations on lowering the age for women voters in 1919.282 The gendered MU
position was encapsulated in a speech by the Countess of Airlie that was
reproduced in the 1891 debut issue of Mothers in Council:
269
Sumner, ‘Letter to 'Dearest Minnie', Concerning Revision of the Mothers' Union Cards
1912’. Views which are expressed and re- expressed with vehemence.
270
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 11, 12.
271
Sumner, ‘Letters to Lady Chichester,’ 24 April 1915?
272
Letter to Mrs Maude Referring to Divorce Legislation: LPL MU/CO/PRES/5/3; Letter to
the Mayoress of Birmingham, 13 Dec. 1910: LPL MU/CO/PRES/5/5; Porter, Woodward and
Erskine, Mary Sumner, 119-128, 142, 154.
273
Sumner, ‘Letter to 'Dearest Minnie', Concerning Revision of the Mothers' Union Cards
1912’.
274
‘Letters to Lady Chichester’, 7 Jan. 1913. 'Every member of the Mothers' Union is
against the White Slave traffic - if she were not she would not be a member'; Porter,
Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 127.
275
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 126.
276
Sumner, ‘Letter to 'Dearest Minnie', Concerning Revision of the Mothers' Union Cards
1912’.
277
‘Letter to the Editor The Times 'Improper Books', 9 Dec. 1909.’
278
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 141. Emily Wilberforce was Central
President of the MU at the time.
279
Bush, Women against the Vote: Female Anti-Suffragism in Britain, 135.
280
Mary Sumner, MIC, January 1891.
281
Erskine, ‘Letter to Mrs Sumner’.
282
Ridding, ‘Diaries’, 6 July 1919.
133
Consider what power has been given to women by God and how far greater
it is than the powers that man can accede to them. The moulding of the
future generation lies mostly in their hands if they care to exercise their
influence.283
The scope of MU interests and its professionalisation in matters of procedure was
represented by the establishment of diverse committees.284 The brief of the
‘Watch Committee’, instigated by Lady Laura Ridding in 1912, was ‘to watch and
give information and advise the Council as to desirable action with regard to
legislative proposals in Parliament concerning matters affecting the welfare of the
mothers of the nation’.285 The MU sought to influence policy through gathering
evidence to present to government commissions (notably the 1909 Gorell
commission on divorce), securing the support of influential individuals and
sending delegates and speakers to conferences (from 1890).286 It also cooperated
with other organisations such as the GFS. This cooperation and the overseas
dimension of the MU’s networking will receive further attention in the following
chapter on Mary Sumner and Mission.
Mary Sumner considered that divorce was not only sinful but ‘tends to fatal
results in domestic and national life’.287 Opposition to divorce reform from 1903
was foremost amongst MU campaigns. As in the years prior to the centralisation
of the MU between 1886 and 1896, the strategy of writing directly to influential
clergy or lay men in authority was deployed. Porter, Woodward and Erskine note
that in 1909 Mary Sumner drew on her acquaintance with Archbishop Cosmo Lang
of York and the Bishop of London, Randal Davidson (the husband of the London
Diocesan MU President), to seek advice on raising a petition. The same year, Mary
Sumner and members of the MU Central Council expressed their view to Lord
Gorell, the chairman of the Divorce Commission and presented evidence gathered
by enquiry at diocesan and branch level. Mary Sumner’s views on divorce were
still being heard in 1920, when her daughter, Mrs Gore Browne, passed on her
283
Countess of Airlie, ‘Report of Speech by the Countess of Airlie’, MIC, January 1891.
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 113.
285
Ibid., 127.
286
MU, Fifty Years, 26, 30, 43. Lady Laura Ridding spoke on issues of interest to the MU
from 1887, when she addressed the Wolverhamption Chuch Congress on 'Home Duties of
the Educated Woman'.
287
Mary Sumner, ‘The Home’ ( Winchester: Warren and Sons.n.d.)
284
134
views on the indissolubility of marriage.288 In rationale and campaigning strategy,
opposition to divorce reform encapsulates the agenda and practices of the MU,
which reflected the views of the ‘Foundress’ and the durability of her influence.289
It also illustrates the field position that she and the MU achieved in relation to the
Church and to temporal authority. In 1926, the author of Fifty Years considered
that the MU had been influential in mediating legislative reform:
Those who govern our nation have realised that, in dealing with the
marriage laws of our country, they have to reckon with a very large section
of women who banded together in the Mothers’ Union have pledged
themselves to defend their country from legislation which is in direct
contradiction to the law of God more than once since 1910 the prompt
action of the Mothers’ Union has prevented the increase of divorce facilities
and its influence has been felt with regard to other Bills before parliament
which have concerned the moral welfare of our country.290
Conclusion: thinking with Bourdieu291
Mary Sumner: dispositions of habitus and horizons of possibility.
Mary Sumner’s dispositions of habitus were informed in the context of a family
and social circle which prioritised religious capital, in particular that of the
Established Anglican Church. The religious doxa legitimised the cultural arbitrary
of patriarchal dominance by asserting the authority of men over women as
divinely ordained.292 It drew on biblical interpretation to identify chastity as an
absolute marker of female symbolic capital.293 Notions of desirable capital in
relation to women accrued around maternal and domestic roles. Women
distinguished by these indices of desirable capital were authorised to act beyond
the family circle in ways that contributed to upholding the social and religious
capital of the family. This exercise of pedagogic action could accrue further
pedagogic authority for women.
288
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 119-123, 154.
Beaumont, Housewives and Citizens, 77-79, illustrates the durability of Mary Sumner's
views in MU policy.
290
Mothers' Union, Fifty Years, 26-27.
291
Jenkins. Pierre Bourdieu, 1. Jenkins notes Bourdieu’s ideas as ‘being good to think with’.
292
Bourdieu and Passeron, Reproduction, 5; Bourdieu, Masculine Domination, 9.
293
Bourdieu and Wacquant, An Invitation, 174.
289
135
Mary Sumner’s recollections of her early life and marriage (which were produced
with advocacy for the MU in mind) illustrate her misrecognition of patriarchal
domination as both divinely ordained and ‘the natural order’. Her writings on
marriage emphasise the symbolic (but also practical) rewards of conforming to
religiously authorised gendered conduct.294 Her complicity with the cultural
arbitrary of religion (and also with the associated arbitraries of class and gender
differentiation)295 is also demonstrated in the agenda of the MU and by her
support for the GFS.296 This complicity may be attributed to the effectiveness of
pedagogic action in securing the misrecognition of the symbolic violence to which
she was subject. There was a high degree of correspondence between the
pedagogic action of family, social milieu and as institutionalised in the Church, in
the mis/recognition of legitimate authority and capital assets.297
Mary Sumner: capital and field manoeuvres
Mary Sumner’s recognition as a pedagogic authority in the field of religion
(specifically the sub field of Anglicanism) was predicated on her possession of
recognised varieties of capital and the accumulation of further capital over time
and space (family, parish, locality and nationally). This was contingent on and was
mediated by her position in relation to other agents and their field positions and
capital advantages.298
By association to her affluent father Mary Sumner was the beneficiary of
economic capital. As a musician, linguist and well-travelled woman she embodied
cultural capital. Her education had also habituated her to conforming to the
dominant social and religious doxa which informed approved notions of gendered
conduct. She was also a physically attractive young woman. Association with an
extensive kinship network and with individuals of relatively high social status gave
her social capital.299 Her marriage to George Sumner united individual agents who
294
Ibid., 162.
Moi, What Is Woman?, 291.
296
Bourdieu and Passeron, Reproduction, 8.
297
Ibid., 5-10.
298
Grenfell and Hardy, Art Rules, 31.
299
Bourdieu and Wacquant, An Invitation, 119.
295
136
embodied varieties of personal capital but also brought together the capital assets
of the cultured, affluent but socially aspirational Heywoods (formerly associated
with commerce and Nonconformism) and the Sumners, a family invested with
religious and social capital attributable to the prominent position ( distinction) of
its members in the religious field, specifically the sub field of Anglicism, which had
privileged status in the wider field of power.
Mary Sumner acquired the symbolic gendered capital of the good wife through
successful childrearing and acting as helpmeet to her husband in parish work and
social interactions. This authorised and was increased through her participation in
socially and religiously approved causes, as exemplified by the CETS and the GFS.
Her possession of capital was bound up with the progress of her husband, whose
career was also a trajectory of capital accumulation and transaction, equally
mediated by his relationship to agents recognised for distinction in the Church.
Position in the religious institution favoured by the dominant social group,
facilitated contact with agents with high social capital and degrees of political
capital. Mary Sumner’s location adjacent to agents in the religious field was
significant in the genesis of the MU, which drew on their support.300
The authorisation of the MU by clerics representing institutional pedagogic
authority and its promotion through the mobilisation of Christian ladies,
demonstrates that Mary Sumner’s capital was recognised by agents within her
habitus, who collectively misrecognised the dominant cultural arbitraries of
Church, gender and class hierarchy and sought to reproduce them through
symbolically violent pedagogic work. The instigation of the MU and the GFS is
indicative of a sense that the religious doxa and the indices of religious womanly
capital were contested and in need of defending. This mutual recognition of
desirable capital was fundamental to the success of Mary Sumner’s field
manoeuvres. Her possession of social and religious capital allowed her the
authority to recruit support amongst an extending network of personal contacts
with a shared interest in upholding Anglicanism to endorse the MU. The
endorsement she secured from agents possessed of esteemed social capital or
invested with religious pedagogic authority as churchmen, served to present
300
Bourdieu and Passeron, Reproduction, 11-31.
137
association with the MU as a means for the acquisition of social and religious
capital. This accumulation of capital accrued not only to the MU as a body but was
embodied in Mary Sumner as its iconic ‘Foundress’. The wide circulation of the
publications through which she asserted the significance of women as moral
exemplars, without challenging the gendered doxic values of Anglicanism, is also
indicative of a successful field manoeuvre. In speaking for an official Church
organisation and drawing on the language of the Church, Mary Sumner may be
considered not just a pedagogic worker, a helpmeet on behalf of the Church, but
as an agent invested with pedagogic authority.
Mary Sumner, the Mothers’ Union and the Anglican Church vis-àvis the field of power
The Anglican Church of England, in which Mary Sumner was raised and into which
she married, was associated with the state and upheld the cultural arbitrary of
royal power. Figure 3 (see end of this section) represents the trajectory of Mary
Sumner and her organisation towards power in the field of religion, in this case
the sub field of the Anglican Church. It also represents a trajectory within the
wider field of power, understood as relating to the apparatus of government. The
monarch was affirmed in temporal power by the rite of coronation. This was
presided over by clergy of the highest rank who were political appointees and
members of the higher legislative chamber. The Church of England also
legitimised the armed forces, the ultimate bastion of state power, through
religious ceremonials. Religious authority was drawn on to sanction the moral
right of the nation in time of warfare against its enemies.301
The Anglican Church represented the interests of the dominant social group. It
perpetuated the cultural arbitrary of class privilege by promoting a doxa that
asserted social stratification as divinely ordained. In return for ‘knowing ones
place’ it offered paternalistic philanthropy and salvation.302 Mary Sumner
identified with ‘the upper classes’ and saw behaviour in accordance with
religious principle as related to social wellbeing. Social ills were interpreted as
301
The following chapter will consider religion in relation to legitimising empire.
Bourdieu, Practical Reason, 117.
302
138
indicative of moral failings rather than systemic disadvantage.303 Conformity to
and complicity with the symbolic violence of religiously approved standards of
behaviour, such as sexual continence and temperance, would avoid the misery
of prostitution, violence and poverty and thus served the interests of the
state.304
For Mary Sumner, the dominant position of those with temporal power was
legitimised by their demonstrable possession of religious capital.305 Much of her
pedagogic action was directed at the upper/middle classes with the aim of
securing their conformity to the religious cultural arbitrary. This may be
interpreted as action to legitimise social domination by associating it with
religious capital. Mary Sumner’s pedagogic action can be seen as defensive of
the cultural arbitrary of religion against secular values. The MU and to a lesser
extent the GFS, which placed less emphasis on Anglican sacraments, may be
perceived as pedagogic work towards perpetuating the Anglican cultural
arbitrary. As avowedly patriotic organisations they also engaged in pedagogic
work towards upholding the privileged status of the Anglican Church in relation
to the state.
Mary Sumner is representative of a category of conservative, religious woman of
upper/middle class status, who identified with and claimed alliance to, ‘upper
class’ interests and perceived privileges and responsibilities. The MU offered
these women, within gendered parameters, opportunities for the acquisition of
symbolic capital through religious activism. In exchange for mis/recognising the
legitimacy of arbitrarily ascribed gender roles and characteristics (that accrued
around the notion of spiritual motherhood) that they sought to perpetrate, it
offered the rewards of usefulness, capability and expertise and reputation in a
territory of their own, dedicated to lobbying on issues they considered relevant.
The foremost beneficiary of these rewards as the revered ‘Foundress’ was Mary
Sumner herself. She was innovative in securing her own recognition as a
pedagogic authority not just within the MU but in the Anglican Church and the
field of religion.
303
Distinction, 471.
Rey, Bourdieu on Religion, 333.
305
‘Marketing the Goods of Salvation: Bourdieu on Religion’, 334.
304
139
In establishing the MU as a recognised body within the Anglican religious field,
Mary Sumner may be seen as mediating doxic assumptions on the role of
women. Whilst the capital asserted as desirable in women was conceived of
within the existing gendered religious and social doxa, the worth of this capital
was championed as significant to national life.306 Through drawing on the
authority conferred by institutional attachment to the Church and royal
endorsement, the MU made the presence of women at mass gatherings and as
speakers on public platforms, not only familiar but respectable. It identified
women as collectively organised within the Church. It also normalised the
collective action of women in relation to public issues.307 It could also claim to
represent a body of opinion and lobbied to influence policy at a time when
women had no direct political voice.
The voices of rank and file members of the organisation are absent from the
record, yet evidence of support for the pedagogic work and recognition of the
pedagogic authority of Mary Sumner and the MU can be seen in the rapid
expansion of the organisation nationally and overseas.308 In exchange for the
misrecognition of the legitimacy of a religious doxa which upheld patriarchal and
class domination and enforced absolutes in gendered standards of behaviour,
the MU offered tangible advantages and symbolic gifts. Members of the MU
were offered a discourse of empowering motherhood and could accrue the
social honour of belonging to an organisation which (like the GFS) upheld a
standard of high moral conduct. They were also given a space for respectable
socialisation and offered entertainment and instruction through its magazines.
Celebrity endorsement was given to the organisation by titled ladies and
members of the royal family. In Mary Sumner members could identify with a
leader who combined a distinguished public profile with the ability (via her
writing, speaking and correspondence) to give members a sense of sympathetic
personal connection. She appeared to embody the capital assets and symbolic
gifts that she asserted as a reward for upholding religiously authorised notions of
womanhood and religious piety.
306
Bourdieu and Passeron, Reproduction, 36.
Bourdieu and Wacquant, An Invitation, 133.
308
Ibid., 162.
307
140
Mary Summer’s activism was dedicated to and authorised by upholding the
gendered and socially stratified doxic values of the established Anglican Church.
Despite its dual position as recipient and enactor of symbolic violence, the MU
was a conduit for the articulation of a collective woman’s point of view and a
means, albeit framed within gendered notions of maternal womanliness, for
women to develop expertise, exercise authority and assert their value. Mary
Sumner’s stature, as a female celebrity speaker to mass audiences and the
leader of a religious worldwide mass organisation, makes her innovative in the
context of her times and remarkable in any period.
See below for Figure 3 Mary Sumner and the Mothers’ Union Field
Trajectory Religion
141
142
Chapter 4 – Mary Sumner and Mission
Introduction
Mary Sumner’s activism occurred in a context of a proliferation of philanthropic
activity, stimulated by evangelical religious revival and the expansion of British
overseas rule, in which women were participants. This chapter understands
mission to relate to varieties of religious and philanthropic activism ‘at home’ and
overseas. It sees mission as relating to women’s gendered spheres of activity
(such as philanthropy) legitimised by religious authority, as in the notion of
‘women’s mission’.1 ‘Mission’ was also used by Mary Sumner, her network
associates, and other contemporaries, to refer to philanthropic and religious
outreach ‘at home’, encapsulated in the term ‘civilizing mission’;2 and to activism
motivated by religious faith and the desire to impart religious preferences and
standards of conduct upon others.3 Mission also concerns the activity of
missionaries and missionary societies seeking converts overseas. Mission is also
seen to relate to the provision of religious ministry for expatriate communities.
Mission in this sense invites consideration of identities (racial and gendered),
relations and transactions of meaning and power between ‘home’ and overseas,
in diverse local/ national/ transnational /colonial /imperial spaces and contact
1
Heath-Stubbs, Friendships Highway, 82, quotes Mary Townsend GFS 'foundress' on GFS
work as 'a Mission', the 'missionary element which is the secret of our society'; Angela
Georgina Burdett-Coutts, Woman's Mission: A Series of Congress Papers on the
Philanthropic Work of Women by Eminent Writers (London: Sampson Low, Marston and
Company, 1893), Mary Sumner's 'Responsibilities of Mothers' was one of the papers; In
this article she asserts the 'exhalted mission' of child rearing 'the sphere which God has
appointed for her in the home'; Anon, ‘Record of Events Report of the Church Congress at
Hull’, English Woman's Review, October 15th 1890, Archdeacon Emery's address.
2
Twells, The Civilising Mission, 5, uses the terms 'missionary philanthropy' and 'civilizing
mission'; Daggers, ‘The Victorian Female Civilising Mission and Women's Aspirations
Towards Priesthood in the Church of England’, 625. The term 'Victorian female civilizing
mission' unifies the expansive range of activity [...] into the world beyond the home.
Religion [...] was inextricably linked with philanthropy'. This term as used by Daggers and
Twells, encapsulates the assumption of superior values and standards of behaviour and an
assumed authority for their imposition on groups categorised as deficient, frequently
through religiously motivated philanthropy which was compatible with what Daggers has
described as ‘spiritual womanhood’.
3
Gill, Women and the Church of England, 131-145; Martha Vicinus, Independent Women:
Work and Community for Single Women 1850-1920 (London: Virago, 1985), 36,
'Underpinning all women's work was a sense of religious commitment'.
143
zones.4 This chapter will consider mission via these three interconnected strands,
domestic, philanthropic and engagement with distant spaces and Mary Sumner’s
interplay with them.
This chapter analyses Mary Sumner’s negotiation of constraint and agency and
her position vis-à-vis the upholding and transaction of power relative to mission.
The chapter will begin with a consideration of circumstances that informed Mary
Sumner’s habitus and will examine the three aspects of mission (outlined above)
as understood in and experienced by Mary Sumner in her kinship network. It will
identify capital and practices in philanthropy and religious missionary enterprise
overseas with reference to women’s domestic mission and its extension into
authorised philanthropic action. The chapter will then move outward into wider
networks both informal and formal to consider Mary Sumner located amongst
other agents and organisations. Attention will be given to Mary Sumner’s
understanding of non-Christian religion and attitudes to ‘race’ and the work of
missionaries as discussed in accounts of her travels, in particular her visit to the
Holy Land in 1880 (prior to the diocesan launch of the MU), which provided the
material for the published account Our Holiday in the East.5 Her views on
‘woman’s mission’, philanthropy and overseas engagement will be contextualised
through attention to the GFS as the organisation she participated in prior to her
activism through the MU.
The chapter will examine Mary Sumner’s field manoeuvres in relation to mission.
Mary Sumner’s use of the MU to advance her religious agenda in the
British/English metropole and overseas will be considered, as will her use of
missionary endeavour overseas to validate the MU message ‘at home’.
Transactions of desirable capital relating to motherhood and ‘women’s mission’
‘at home’ and philanthropy and missionary activity overseas towards securing
4
Catherine Hall, Cultures of Empire: A Reader: Colonisers in Britain and the Empire in
Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2000);
Frederick Cooper and Ann Laura Stoler, Tensions of Empire: Colonial Cultures in a
Bourgeois World (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997), 1-45. Cooper and Stoler
note the transactional relationship in terms of identiy between metropole and periphery;
Pratt, Imperial Eyes: 6-7. 'Contact zone' and 'transculturation' describes meaning drawn
from encounters across space and culture. I use the term overseas to refer to this diversity
of locations.
5
Our Holiday.
144
pedagogic authority and field position for the MU, will be analysed. Relations with
other organisations, including the GFS and the Anglican Church and evidence of
networking practices, will be examined.
The chapter will locate the MU in wider fields of power represented by the
Anglican Church and the Empire. Mary Sumner’s attitudes to Empire, ‘race’, nonChristian religion and non-Protestant Christian denominations as reflected in and
promoted through the MU will be located in relation to the reproduction or
negotiation of a dominant cultural arbitrary with attention being given to gender,
class, religion and ‘race’. The chapter will conclude by summarising dispositions of
habitus and horizons of possibility in relation to mission, capital and field
manoeuvres and fields and fields of power, reflective of the three levels of
analysis.
Mary Sumner: habitus; kinship networks; traditions of
philanthropy; evangelical religion and civilizing mission.
Traditions of philanthropy and evangelical mission
The Unitarian traditions upheld by the Heywoods prior to their Anglican
conversion were characterised by the application of religious principles to all
aspects of life, belief in human perfectibility and, contingently, aspirations for self
and societal improvement, frequently realised through philanthropy.6 These were
compatible with Anglican doctrine, particularly as practised by believers of an
evangelical mind, who demonstrated their inner faith through public acts. Thomas
Heywood and his elder brother, Sir Benjamin, following conversion to Anglicanism
(c. 1834) realised their philanthropic impulse in the building of parish churches, in
addition to providing schools and facilities for the poor.7
6
Alan J. Kidd and K. W. Roberts, City, Class and Culture: Studies of Social Policy and Cultural
Production in Victorian Manchester (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1985);
Watts, Gender, Power and the Unitarians in England, 1760-1860; Gleadle, The Early
Feminists: Radical Unitarians and the Emergence of the Women's Rights Movements,
1831-51. The educational dimension will be discussed in the following chapter.
7
Sumner, ‘Early Life’; McConnell, ‘Heywood, Sir Benjamin, First Baronet (1793–1865)’.
145
The Heywoods (and the Sumners), motivated by their religious beliefs, considered
that their advantaged position within society both entitled and required them to
exercise responsibility for the material and spiritual welfare of the population in
the locality. Family memoirs enumerate philanthropic achievements in an
assertion of religious capital. Mary Sumner noted that: ‘Uncle Benjamin [Sir
Benjamin Heywood] and [cousin] Oliver [Heywood] spent their lives in working for
God and their fellow creatures’.8 Thomas Percival Heywood (her cousin and
brother-in-law) was also ‘a lifelong philanthropist’.9 Mary’s father, Thomas
Heywood, similarly demonstrated his philanthropy through church building and
the provision of a school.10
Mary Sumner and her niece Isobel emphasised philanthropic activity as ministry
undertaken by their parents as married couples. Mary Sumner recorded that her
parents ‘took a never failing interest in all the poor around them’ and ‘kept
actively at work for the good of the poor people’.11 Isobel Heywood similarly
recorded that her parents, used ‘to visit diligently and make friends with the
poor’.12 Children in the family were also habituated to the acquisition of symbolic
capital through participation in philanthropic work. Mary and her sister were
expected to help in Sunday school.13 She recorded that when ’a large bazaar was
held at Hope End to help in getting the church at Wellington Heath finished [...] I
had a stall of canary birds and flowers and made £12’.14
The notion of philanthropy as mission is evoked by the language in which
philanthropic activity is described, which is evocative of endeavour and venture to
regions deemed to be in need of moral improvement. Mary Sumner considered
that her parents’ interventions ‘were the means of transforming a wild district
8
Sumner, ‘Early Life’, 32.
Ibid.
10
Ibid., ‘My father built a church at Wellington Heath [...] a neglected district’.
11
Ibid., 32,33.
12
Heywood and Heywood, Reminiscences, 31.
13
Sumner, ‘Early Life'; See also Charlotte Mary Yonge, ‘A Real Childhood’, MIC, January
1892; Julia Bush, ‘Joyce, Ellen (1832–1924).’ Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
(Oxford University Press, 2006), [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/74348,
accessed 26 Nov. 2012]. MU and GFS co-workers Charlotte Yonge and Ellen Joyce were
similarly expected to contribute to philanthropic ’work’ as children. Yonge taught Sunday
school and Joyce sewed for an emigrant.
14
Sumner, ‘Early Life'.
9
146
into a respectable community’.15 The district reformed by her sister Maggie and
her husband was: ‘A sort of ‘no man’s land’ out of the way of good influences;
drinking, fighting and all sorts of wickedness went on there unnoticed and
unrebuked’.16
Missionary valour is evoked in anecdotes recalling the personal witness of
religion. Mrs Heywood’s ‘wonderful act of piety and love’ in nursing and bringing
spiritual comfort to a typhoid victim, signalled willingness to engage in an
unpleasant and possibly perilous activity in the discharge of Christian duty that
was consistent with notions of ‘woman’s mission’.17 The Sumners shared a similar
outlook towards the participation of women in philanthropic activity. George
Sumner’s mother was commended for her competence in the administration of
the annual charitable distribution of clothing to the poor from the Bishop’s Palace:
‘the clergy were obliged to allow that the lady had been the best general’.18
As evangelical Anglicans the Sumners also understood religion as a mandate for
working towards the improvement of others.19 Charles Sumner applied himself to
modifying public conduct by eliminating ‘abuses’, such as the ‘profanation of the
Sabbath’ by cricket matches and Sunday trading. He opposed the ‘Hop Sunday’
festival on the grounds that it provoked excessive drinking, immorality and
rowdiness.20 For Charles Sumner, whose success in filling an empty church by the
earnestness of his evangelical preaching is noted by his son George: ‘clergy were
not placed just to live an ordinarily respectable life but to save souls’.21 Dissent
should be actively countered; for ‘others in the field are ready to pick up
gleanings’ the Anglican priest ‘must preach more earnestly, more simply more
affectionately’.22
15
Ibid.
Heywood and Heywood, Reminiscences, 64.
17
Sumner, ‘Early Life’.
18
Sumner, Life of C. R. Sumner, 155.
19
Bradley, The Call to Seriousness, 119; Brian Dickey, ‘Evangelicals and Poverty’, in
Evangelical Faith and Public Zeal: Evangelicals and Society 1780-1980, ed. John Wolffe
(London: SPCK, 1995), 38-59.
20
Sumner, Life of C. R. Sumner, 175.
21
Ibid., 33.
22
Ibid., 176.
16
147
Charles Sumner approached his Episcopal duties with missionary enthusiasm. In
1829, he made the first visit by the incumbent Bishop to the Channel Islands
which formed part of the extensive diocese of Winchester.23 The purpose of the
visit was to counter adherence to rival denominations. It was also intended to
promote confirmation and the taking of communion in a region where this aspect
of sacramental observance had been neglected.24 The conception of the nature of
these visits as missionary is evoked not only by the agenda of improving religious
participation but by the emphasis on the travail and hazard involved in gaining the
destination. The sense of distant venture is heightened by the fact that French, ‘or
a sort of patois’, was the first language of the working-class population, some of
whom were ‘somewhat primitive in their manners and customs, but singularly
free from vicious habits’.25 This did not inhibit the inclusion of the wifely
helpmeet. Mrs Jennie Sumner and their two children ‘were of course included’ in
the Bishop’s travels. Her contribution to his ministry by correcting his French in
order to aid his communication with catechumens is noted and her stalwart
behaviour at moments of danger is also recorded as a laudable attribute.26 In
1850, George and Mary Sumner accompanied Bishop Charles Sumner on one of
these visitations, which included the islands of Guernsey, Jersey, Alderney and
Sark. As his father’s chaplain, George ‘preached and spoke for the SPG (Society for
the Propagation of the Gospel) and CMS (Church Mission Society)’.27
In 1859, George and Mary joined in Charles Sumner’s tour of what were referred
to as ‘missionary districts’ in Ireland. The tour was undertaken in support of the
[Anglican] ‘Society for Irish Church Missions to Roman Catholics’. The Bishop was
pleased to note that as a result of the ‘patient forbearance and endurance of the
missionaries [...] the influence of the priests is much diminished’.28
Charles Sumner was also an enthusiast for foreign missions.29 He had preached on
behalf of the CMS in 1827,30 and was active in support of both the CMS and the
23
Ibid., 187. Visits were subsequently undertaken every four years.
Ibid., 184.
25
Ibid., 181-182.
26
Ibid., 181-184. Mrs Sumner, Jennie Fannie Barnardine, had French as her first language.
27
Memoir of George Sumner, 14.
28
Sumner, Life of C. R. Sumner; See Bebbington, ‘Atonement’, 22, 27 for evangelical
aversion to Roman Catholicism as a stimulus for missionary activity
29
Sumner, Life of C. R. Sumner, 141.
24
148
SPG,31 increasing the diocesan funding for the latter from £70 at the start of his
episcopate to £4061 in 1866. Diocesan contribution to the CMS by that time
totalled £8964.32 At the start of the twentieth century, Sumners were serving in
the mission field overseas. George Sumner's nephew, Alan George Sumner
Gibson, was Coadjutor Bishop of Capetown in 1904 and his great nephew, Edward
Harold Etheridge, was in 1900 a missionary in Mashonaland (Zimbabwe).
Mary Sumner: parochial philanthropy and missionary
philanthropy via organisations 1851 to 1886
For Mary Sumner, parochial work affirmed dispositions of habitus towards
religious outreach. Acting as the helpmeet to her husband in his parochial ministry
provided an opening into the field of philanthropy through which she
accumulated capital. This authorised her to exercise pedagogic authority on her
own account, notably through her involvement in the GFS (1875) and Mothers’
Meeting which, with the issue of membership cards in 1876, marked the genesis
of the MU. Mary Sumner’s transaction of this pedagogic authority into pedagogic
work through the diocesan MU will be the subject of a following section.
George and Mary Sumner, like their relatives, realised their religiously motivated
philanthropy by providing facilities for education and worship.33 They maintained
an emphasis on personal intervention in relations with parishioners. George
‘gained their hearts in many cases by sympathy in their family joys and sorrows
[...] He was a personal friend and advisor as well as their clergyman.’34
30
Ibid. An action which, according to George Sumner, 'publically allied him with the
evangelical party'.
31
Brian Stanley, The Bible and the Flag: Protestant Missions and British Imperialism in the
Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (Leicester: Apollos, 1990), 55-84. See ' The Gospel for
the Globe' for the origins of the evangelical Anglican CMS (1799) and the Society for The
Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (1701) which originated to provide Anglican
clergy for British subjects in the colonies. It was associated with the 1699 Society for
Promoting Christian Knowledge. Stanley associates evangelical revival with missionary
expansion.
32
Sumner, Life of C. R. Sumner, 139-141. Sumner, ‘Memorials’.
33
Memoir of George Sumner, 16-17. See previous chapter.
34
Ibid., 19.
149
Parish work at Old Alresford reflected the trend towards participation in
organisations that sought to promote religiously approved conduct in order to
remediate perceived social ills. In 1855, George Sumner, the Honorary Secretary
for the initiative in Hampshire, published an account of ‘Book Hawking’,35 a
scheme which, according to Mary Sumner: ‘did useful work in sending men round
the villages with Bibles, prayer books and good literature’.36 George Sumner also
served on mission related committees. He was a member of the Diocesan Mission
Council for promoting parochial missions in the Diocese and was Vice President of
the Winchester Diocesan Branch of the SPG.37
The Church of England was conscious that working-class men were under
represented in congregations and attention was given to their recruitment.38 Old
Alresford had a Young Men’s Association39 and Mary Sumner drew attention to
the participation of men in parish life as a marker of the success of her husband’s
(and her own) parochial work: ‘It was often observed how great was the number
of men who attended Old Alresford Church’.40 She notes that it was at the request
of the husbands of members of her Mothers’ Meeting that her married men’s’
Bible study group was started.41
During and following the period of parochial work, the perceived social evils of
drink provided a focus for the campaigns by those who perceived the inculcation
35
George Henry Sumner, Book Hawking; as Conducted in Hampshire (London: Wertheim
and Macintosh, 1855). Book hawking was a Church of England initiative dating from
c.1855, see Henry George De Bunsen, ‘The Bookhawker: His Work and His Day: Being a
Paper Read at the Conference of the Church of England Bookhawking Union, Held at
Derby, 21 Sept 1859’, (Published for the Church of England Bookhawking Union, Aylott
and Sons, 1859); James Randall, Book-Hawking a Means of Counteracting the Evils of the
Day (1862); D.R. Mackarill, ‘Book-Hawking-a Moral Enterprise’, Antiquarian Book Monthly
27, no. 7 (2000).
36
Memoir of George Sumner, 20.
37
Ibid., 149.
38
Ibid., 117-120, Charge by the Bishop of Guildford Church of England Men's Society
c.1901; See also Owen Chadwick, The Victorian Church Part 2, 1860-1901 (London: A.& C.
Black), 222, 223, 226; Gill, Women and the Church of England: 84-87. Gill discusses
attempts by 'muscular Christians' such as Charles Kingsley to reconcile a gentle Jesus and a
feminised church with masculinity.
39
Memoir of George Sumner, 16.
40
Ibid., 18.
41
‘Founding’.
150
of moral and religious conduct as a remedy for social ills.42 For Mary Sumner,
poverty, violence and immorality could be attributed to drink because it caused
loss of self-control. Advocacy for temperance (and mothers as promoters of
temperance) was embedded from 1876 in the cards produced for members of the
Mothers’ Meeting and later asserted in Mary Sumner’s writing.43 At Old Alresford,
the ‘cause’ was supported indirectly by the promotion of respectable
entertainments, such as the Cottage Garden Society, the Reading Room and
village concerts. It was overtly promoted through a branch of the CETS
(established in Winchester 1877) which did ‘not seek to enforce teetotalism on all
[...] simply moderation in the use of intoxicants as a condition of membership’.44
However, Mary Sumner regarded total abstinence with approval.45 Her advocacy
for temperance was shared by her daughter Louisa (also an activist in the MU)
and her husband Canon Gore Browne who ‘stopped the whole village going to the
pub’.46 By 1886, Mary Sumner was taking a leading role in the Winchester Juvenile
Union of The Church of England Temperance Society. The Hampshire Chronicle
reported:
A gathering in Canon Street rooms of the children of the Juvenile Union
established three years ago for the benefit of children who do not attend
the National Schools in Winchester, over which Mrs Sumner who is
president of the Union for 1886 most kindly presided. Mrs Sumner
addressed the children and gave most excellent reasons why they should
remain steadfast to their principles and expressed the hope that each of the
children would try and get some more children to join.47
For Mary Sumner 1886 was a significant year. It was at this time (facilitated by her
move to The Close in Winchester) that she assumed office in the diocesan
hierarchy of the GFS. It was also the year of the Portsmouth Congress, which
provided the ‘good opportunity’ that Mary Sumner had desired for making her
42
Brian Harrison, Drink and the Victorians: The Temperance Question in England, 18151872 (London: Faber and Faber Ltd, 1971); Gill, Women and the Church of England, 133134.
43
Sumner, ‘Temperance’ Home Life, 66 - 74.
44
Anon, ‘Church of England Temperance Society’, Hampshire Chronicle, 7 April 1877.
45
Our Holiday, 74. ‘As the majority of the party were total abstainers ([...] we never felt the
least inconvenience or inability to endure fatigue from it), a kettle was soon boiled and
excellent tea, with milk, provided’.
46
M.G Evans and Austin Whitaker. Winchester Life Histories No. 31 Mrs M G Evans, 2 Oct.
Winchester Memories: HRO AV12/31/S1.
47
Anon, ‘Winchester Juvenile Union of the Church of England Temperance Society ‘
Hampshire Chronicle, 16 Jan. 1886.
151
idea of a union of mothers bound by a card of allegiance to habits of prayer and
moral conduct ‘more widely known’.48
The imperative towards the improvement of others through religion, evident in
both the Heywood and Sumner families, was mediated by their social status but
informed, above all, by evangelical enthusiasm typified by a belief in the
application of religious practice for the improvement of public as well as private
life. Their philanthropic projects may be considered as a mission in that they
sought to promote adherence to standards of moral conduct informed by religion.
The misrecognition of the superiority of Anglican doctrine informed the
categorisation of ‘others’ as deficient in religious capital and legitimised this
perpetration of symbolic violence through pedagogic action. Those categorised as
unenlightened, that is in need of winning for (Anglican) Christianity, could be local
or further afield. For the Heywoods and Sumners, involvement in philanthropy
could accrue and indicate possession of symbolic capital, both religious and social.
Travels in the ‘East’: Mary Sumner in the ‘contact zone’, the
habituated gaze, notions of religious and cultural capital
In 1880, Mary Sumner had an experience that was affirmative of her faith and
informative of her advocacy for mission work in foreign lands. She published an
account of what she described as Our Holiday in the East.49 Mary was
accompanied by her husband, George, their daughter, Louisa, two Heywood
cousins and the Reverend (later Archdeacon) Stanhope and his daughter. This
‘charming party of intimate friends and relations’, styling themselves ‘The Happy
Seven’, set out on a three month journey to Egypt, Palestine, Syria and Lebanon.50
Mary Sumner called it ‘an era in our lives’ and described the journey as ‘our
pilgrimage to the Holy Land’.51 By visiting the ‘Orient’, Mary Sumner was engaging
48
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 20.
Our Holiday, 4; Memoir of George Sumner, gives an edited account and documents a
trip to Algiers in 1892/3.
50
Memoir of George Sumner, 39.
51
Our Holiday, 70.
49
152
in a pastime of increasing popularity amongst the upper/middle classes.52 The
Sumners were also in the category of Christian travellers (particularly those of an
evangelical mind) who ‘saw’ the Holy Land in terms of an illustration to reveal
scripture truth.53 The practice of providing a written account of travels through
which the audience ‘at home’ could imagine and construct notions of identity and
difference was also familiar.54
Throughout the narrative, Mary Sumner emphasises the possession and
accumulation of religious capital. In camp, George led Sunday services and twice
daily prayer. Her assertion of the sense of religious solemnity experienced at sites
associated with scripture is encapsulated in this entry:
Good Friday in Jerusalem was a day never to be forgotten. The English
services were well attended and the [Anglican] Bishop of Jerusalem
preached an earnest sermon on the great subject of the crucifixion. It
seemed wonderful and solemn to be commemorating the great central fact
of our holy faith in the very place where Our Blessed Lord laid down his
Life.55
There were occasions when there was a deficit between Mary Sumner’s aspiration
for spiritual affirmation and the actuality of experience: ‘When face to face with a
holy site on which the mind has dwelt during a lifetime, it is somewhat
disappointing not to have a stronger sense of enthusiasm at such moments’.56
However her comment that, ‘the difficulty of realising the exquisite scriptural
stories in modern degraded Palestine was a constant source of disappointment’, is
52
Mary Sumner’s friend Laura Ridding also visited Egypt and the Holy Land in 1886. Lady
Laura Ridding, Account of Travels to Egypt and the Holy Land, Selborne Papers: HRO
9M68/59/1.
53
Melman, Women's Orients, 25-56, 165-190. See 'A Prosopography of Travel, 1763-1914';
'Evangelical Travel and the Evangelical Construction of Gender'.
54
Ibid. Melman draws attention to the trope of travel writing as autobiographical in
constructing, locating and affirming the identities of their protagonists as they responded
to the ‘other’ in the ‘imaginary geography’ of a culturally constructed gendered and
hierarchical ‘orient’ an oppositional binary to the ‘occident’. Melman also identifies 188090 as the high point in the production of women’s travel narratives. Pratt, Imperial Eyes, 7.
Pratt notes how travel writing may serve to 'produce' notions of distant space and
construct conceptions of cultural identity for writer and readers; See also Edward W. Said,
Orientalism (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1985).
55
Our Holiday, 143. See also 22, 37, 42, 72, 87, 90, 103, 110, 123, 151, 183, 193 for similar
evocations of religious experience and sensibility.
56
Ibid., 162.
153
suggestive that poor government and cultural and religious deficiencies, rather
than the lack of religious sensibility on the part of the travellers was the cause.57
The Sumner party’s cultural capital was signalled in reports of enthusiastic
sightseeing at historic sites.58 Mary Sumner celebrated the freedom and
adventure of travel on horseback and ‘bohemian’ living under canvas.59 She also
took pleasure in the perceived quaintness and exoticism of the ‘East’ and its
inhabitants.60 In Alexandria, she ‘felt very much as if we had waked [sic] up in
another planet [...] full of interest and delight’. Cairo donkey boys ‘were as full of
fun as an Irish car driver’,61 Arabs had ‘noble countenances’ and their artistic
drapery was a pleasure to look at.62 Mary Sumner considered that they exhibited
‘a strange sort of majesty and loftiness’ and noted with approval that a Bedoueen
[sic] is always true to his word.63 She singled out their ‘handsome and loyal’ Syrian
guide for praise. ‘Of Hani, it was impossible to speak too highly’.64 Hani’s
estimable qualities were associated with his profession of Christianity: ‘Hani
always tried to join in these [religious] Tent Services and when they parted he said
to Canon Sumner. “I never had such a successful journey before” [...] He then said
pointing to Canon Sumner’s breast pocket, “That’s what kept us safe. It was the
Bible you always read and your prayers”’. 65
Informed by her conviction of the superiority of her own religious, national,
cultural and even aesthetic notions of value, Mary Sumner felt able to record
generalised judgements of categories (religious, racial/national. gender) of a
57
Ibid., 80.
Ibid., 26-30. These pages record visiting the sphinx and the pyramids. George Sumner
and his daughter Louisa ascended one pyramid and visited the interior.
59
Ibid., 24, 296. India-rubber baths, soap tins, beds, sponges and looking glasses were
amongst the Sumners' camping equipment. The ladies had brought their own saddles.
60
Ibid., 16.
61
Ibid.
62
Ibid., 14.
63
Ibid., 121, 224; Emma Raymond Pitman, Missionary Heroines in Eastern Lands: Woman's
Work in Mission Fields (London: S. W. Partridge & Co., 1895), 131-137. Miss Whatley's
view of Egypt correponds almost exactly with Mary Sumner's responses in interpretation
of the exotic scene, both refer to dreaming and describe camels, drapery and 'native
countenances'.
64
Our Holiday, 7, see Mary Sumner's footnote.
65
Memoir of George Sumner, 51. Mary Sumner records a visit to Hani's family in 'Beyrout'
and notes correspondence with Hani in years after the holiday. Hani’s children were Selim,
Maron, Ayoob, Foudoulla, Regina, Bechara and ‘little Josef’.
58
154
person based on limited examples of behaviour. English characteristics (work
ethic, moral and physical hygiene) were seen to have the advantage even in
comparison with other Europeans. She portrayed Italians at Brindisi exhibiting an
‘inconceivable want of energy’ and her condemnation of Port Said as ‘very new,
very French and very wicked’ reveals her association of France with laxity in
morals.66
For Mary Sumner, cleanliness was a measure of what she perceived as ‘civilized’
behaviour. Even Christian pilgrims going to Jerusalem were noted as exhibiting
manners and customs that ‘were not altogether appetising’.67 She was shocked at
villages in Alexandria: ‘The Arab villages are deplorable children of all ages and
degrees of nudeness roll about in the dust heaps [... ] how they can live in such
degrading dirt and with habits so uncivilized, is almost inconceivable to
Europeans.68
Lack of refinement was noted by Mary Sumner in culture, too. She considered
that ‘Orientals seem to have no musical gifts’.69 Seeing a performance by dancers
at Jericho who ‘with their tattooed faces, glaring eyes, dark complexions and
dishevelled hair [... ] looked like savages’, the Sumner party (who had not enjoyed
the concert) thought they ‘had found ourselves in central Africa’. The Sumners
countered by singing ‘a selection of glees and songs’. Mary Sumner reported that
these efforts were applauded but the thoughts of the indigenous audience on the
Sumners’ artistic efforts and conduct are a matter for speculation.70
Mary Sumner saw lack of self-control as indicative of racial inferiority ‘Easterns
are subject to paroxysms of wrath’. She also categorised ‘Orientals’ as childlike.71
Her narrative included:
66
Our Holiday, 4, 64; 'French' was synonymous with lax morals and 'French novels'
exemplified unsuitable literature. Mrs Knight, ‘On High Schools and Home Education’, MIC,
April 1891; Mary Sumner, Good Homes and Faithful Marriages: LPL MU/MSS/2/8; To
Mothers of the Higher Classes, 18; Hall, Sex, Gender and Social Change in Britain since
1880, 44-45.
67
Our Holiday, 66.
68
Ibid., 12, 14.
69
Ibid., 101.
70
Ibid., 124-125.
71
Ibid., 108, 215, 278.
155
An incident worth noting as illustrative of native character [...] Al Raschid
having been kicked by a horse burst into tears [ ... ] it was only a scratch
which an English lad would have laughed at but the great childlike Syrian
be-pitied himself greatly and his pathetic and dramatic gesticulations were
quite touching.72
The Sumners were confident of their status as English travellers.73 Mary Sumner
recorded that: ‘The Union Jack floated over the central tent and gave éclat to our
encampment’.74 They claimed access to indigenous people of high social standing
and authority. Our Holiday records visits to the Governor of Nablous and the
Mufti of Damascus amongst other notables.75 In Egypt, the Sumner party were
entertained by the Khedive who had ‘the good sense to apply to one of our great
public schools in England, [for a tutor for his sons] [...] an ex-master of Winchester
College’.76 The narrative implies that superior class equates with civilized
behaviour and thus the appreciation of (English, Christian) values as represented
by the Sumner party.
In addition to Mary Sumner’s tendency to make judgements according to her
perception of racial and national types, her observations reflect her preference
for Protestant Anglican observance.77 Roman Catholic iconography was not to her
taste: ‘At Gethsemane the only things that jarred upon us were the pictures of our
Lord’s sufferings at the Latin stations. These poor representations seemed puerile
and impertinent’.78 She also disapproved of Greek Orthodox Church ritual and the
lack of restraint shown by its worshippers.79
Positioned as non-believers, Muslims and Jews were subject to a similar scrutiny.
Mary Sumner condemned ‘the utter lack of reverence and decorum’ at a Jewish
funeral.80 At the ‘Wailing’ [Western] Wall in Jerusalem she noted: ‘Jews from all
72
Ibid., 223.
Mary Sumner distinguished the Sumner party from ‘Cooks Tourists’, Ibid., 122.
74
Ibid., 71.
75
Ibid., 185, 264,169,249, 263, 267, 306.
76
Ibid., 47-49, 50-51; Sumner, Memoir of George Sumner, 41-42.
77
Cooper and Stoler, Colonial Cultures, 2-4. Her remarks illustrate Cooper and Stoler's
notion of grammar of difference.
78
Our Holiday, 172.
79
Ibid., 98.
80
Ibid., 113.
73
156
parts of the world [...] many with almost Saxon features [...] but all having the
subtle Jewish look which is unmistakable’.81 She also commented on what was, to
her, their mistaken profession of faith. ‘Their forefathers had crucified the Lord of
Glory and they knew it not: the true Light is Shining and they see it not: the
Messiah for whom they sigh has come, but they believe it not:’82
Muslims also exhibited what for Mary Sumer was a regrettable lack of decorum in
worship. She condemned the religious fervour of an Egyptian festival as a
‘barbarous and disgusting rite’,83 and at a Muslim funeral ‘four veiled women
astride on donkeys [were] uttering wails. Great indeed was the contrast between
this scene and our reverent English funerals. The wailing too had an artificial ring
about it, which did not denote true sorrow’.84 Muslim stories and legends ‘did not
to say the least, consort well with the facts of scripture’.85 Moreover she averred
that ‘religious liberty is abhorrent to Moslems’.86 However, ‘It was impossible not
to be struck by their fearless profession [of faith] or to help wishing that members
of our pure Church would be equally bold in their Christian ritual’.87 She was also
impressed by the devotion exhibited by a group of ‘dervishes’ but qualified her
approbation by noting that:
In our minds was a deep longing that such evident religious fervour might
be gathered up with our own holy faith and that the yearnings of these
fanatics should be satisfied by a real and intelligent knowledge of the
unknown God whom they ignorantly worship.88
Despite George Sumner’s assertion in his preface to Our Holiday, that no attempt
‘to solve the knotty questions connected with the holy sites in Palestine’ was
intended,89 Mary Sumner associated what she perceived as the failings of the
Ottoman government with religious deficit: ‘Bad government may account for
81
Ibid., 145.
Ibid., 147.
83
Ibid., 47.
84
Ibid., 52.
85
Ibid., 104.
86
Ibid., 186.
87
Ibid., 54.
88
Ibid., 276.
89
Ibid., 1. Preface.
82
157
much, a false religion may account for more’.90 Missionary work offered a
solution. She considered that:
We as Christians must try more zealously to raise up the banner of the
Cross in the midst of a land so dear to Our Lord. [...] Only thus will light
break forth out of the present darkness and Palestine take its rightful place
amongst Christian kingdoms. If the holy land were governed by Christian
rulers a great religious revival would in all probability soon begin.91
A recurrent theme in Mary Sumner’s assertion of the superiority of (Protestant)
Christianity concerned the treatment of women and revealed her assumption
concerning appropriate gendered behaviour. For her, ‘eastern’ social practice
demonstrated a ‘barbaric want of chivalry’ on the part of men.92 It was also her
view that ‘eastern’ religious forms of observance denied women participation in
worship and spiritual inclusion.93 She described a Jewish service as ‘very much
lacking in devotion [...] the mother sat apart and hardly seemed to join in the
service at all’.94 At the ‘Wailing’ [Western] Wall there were only ‘a few women
who kept in the background’.95 Despite asserting that: ‘No religion treats women
fairly but the Christian religion’,96 her reservations on the practices of the
‘eastern’ Orthodox Churches extended to the treatment of women. In a Greek
Orthodox Church, ‘there was a gallery at the back very high up where women can
worship unseen. Even the Christian women here follow the Moslem custom and
entirely veil their faces’.97
90
Ibid., 88.
Ibid., 90.
92
Memoir of George Sumner: 98-99.
93
Melman, Women's Orients, 194-209. Melman's Chapter 'Domestic life in Palestine':
Evangelical Ethnography - Faith and Prejudice', refers to women's writing on Moslem and
Jewish women that puts Mary Sumner's views in a context of evangelical disaproval of the
treatment of 'orientals'. Melman identifies (amongst numerous examples) Mrs Mott’s
1865 Stones of Palestine: Notes on a Ramble through the Holy Land; Suzette Lloyd and
Harriet Smith’s 1872 Daughters of Syria: A Narrative of the Efforts of the late Mrs Bowen
Thompson for the Evangelisation of Syrian Females and Countess Ellesmere’s Journal of
Tour in the Holy Land in May and June 1840 as works which reflect this view. They are
works dated prior to Mary Sumner’s 1880 journey.
94
Our Holiday, 151.
95
Ibid., 145.
96
Memoir of George Sumner, 50.
97
Our Holiday, 81.
91
158
Muslim practice drew Mary Sumner’s strongest disapproval. She considered that
the zenana system, which she had observed at first hand in Egypt, Palestine and
Syria, symbolised the low social and spiritual status of women. For Mary Sumner,
the zenana condemned women to a life that was ‘vacant and debilitating [...]
dreary, useless, childish [and] inane.98 Women were ‘kept in ignorance and
practical imprisonment [...] employing their time in little else than idle gossip and
the jealousies and inanities of their miserable life. We never saw a book or a bit of
needle work in any harem we visited’.99 She condemned what she called ‘forced
marriage’ and commented ‘daughters are puppets in their parents’ hands’.100
Mary Sumner considered that this state of affairs demonstrated the need for
missionary intervention, ‘the inestimable value of zenana work’.101 These views
were reiterated in her 1910 memoir of her husband: ‘It is frequently asked by men
and women of the world; “What is the good of Missions? Why not leave the
Easterns to live up to their own religions?” These people [...] do not know the fate
and sorrow of the eastern woman.’102 Mary Sumner’s experience in Algeria (also
recalled in the memoir), which included a covert visit to observe worship in a
mosque,103 affirmed the view she asserted in the account of Our Holiday and was
also drawn upon as evidence towards her authority on the subject:
During our time in Algeria, as in the East we were deeply moved by the
condition of wives and mothers. It is terribly sad, for where the Christian
religion does not prevail, their lot is indeed hard and fills one’s heart with
sympathy. A woman is never seen inside a mosque. I believe she is
supposed to have no soul, for in speaking to a dervish (the native village
schoolmaster at Sidi-ben-Madin) he said, when asked why there were only
boys in school, “OH girls do not need it; they have no souls; they die like
dogs.” I do not suppose this is the universal opinion of Easterns; but it
would account in some measure for the treatment of women in
98
Ibid., 310, 128. Miss Stanhope's 'exhibition of first rate riding' to an Arab audience is
used by Mary Sumner to indicate the freedom accorded to Christian women.
99
Ibid., 266.
100
Ibid., 303.
101
Ibid., see Guli Francis-Dehquani, ‘Women Missionaries in Persia: Perceptions of Muslim
Women and Islam, 1884-1934’, in The Church Mission Society and World Christianity,
1799-1999, ed. Kevin Ward and Brian Stanley (Grand Rapids and Cambridge: Wm. B.
Eerdmans, 2000).
102
Memoir of George Sumner, 50.
103
Ibid., 94-95. Mary Sumner observed the Grand Mufti leading 'the last important
ceremony of Ramadan' and noted: 'Very properly the Bishop [George Sumner] was not
invited!'
159
Mohamedan countries. All honour to Missions which are working for the
salvation of women.104
Accounts of visits to missions and missionaries feature in both Our Holiday and in
the record of Mary Sumner’s time in Algeria.105 Women taking leading roles in
missionary schools feature prominently,106 and she noted that the missionary, Mr
Macintosh, was ‘greatly helped in his work by his wife’.107 In Egypt, Mary Sumner
visited a school run by the ‘brave, indomitable’ Miss Whatley, who had been
‘abused insulted and cursed in the streets by fanatical Moslems’. Mary Sumner
was impressed by Miss Whatley’s achievement in the face of ‘difficulties which
would have completely disheartened a less heroic spirit’.108 She also commended
Mrs Bowen Thompson for her mission school in Damascus where, ‘the sphere is
one of great difficulty and danger and requires much tact as well as Christian
Courage’.109 In ‘Beyrout’, Mary talked to mothers at Mrs Mott’s school for girls,
who ‘sent a kind message to the members of my Mothers’ Meeting at home
about which I had told them’.110 For Mary Sumner, the valorous example of
missionaries was a standard to be lived up to and she warned of the discredit that
failure to uphold Christian standards engendered in the eyes of non-believers. In
1910, when the Mothers’ Meeting, mentioned in 1880, had grown into a
worldwide organisation, she wrote:
If all English women showed the Easterns what the home life of a true wife
and mother is and if in every country possessed by the English, the Christian
religion had always been openly lived and honoured by the English
Government and taught in the schools which were started by our
Government in the conquered lands, by this time Christianity would have
104
Ibid., 93. Capitalisation as source. See also 99 according to the testimony of English
Missionaries 'the homelife of women [...] was sad indeed'.
105
Our Holiday, 110,112, 119, 146,204-206, 210-211. These are in addition to other
references mentioned in the body of the text.
106
Ibid., 251, 301. Mrs Mott and her sisters Mrs Henry Smith and Miss Lloyd of the British
Syrian Schools are an example.They were sisters of Mrs Bowen-Thompson d.1869.
107
Ibid., 273.
108
Ibid., 44-45; Emma R Pitman, Missionary Heroines in Eastern Lands: Women's Work in
Mission Fields (London: S W Patridge, 1895), 129-160. Miss Whatley, on of the subjects
was the daughter of the Archbishop of Dublin. She worked in Egypt from 1856 to 1889
having begun her mission work in Ireland during the famine of 1846 to 1851 on behalf of
the Irish Anglican Church Mission among Roman Catholics.
109
Our Holiday, 273; Pitman, Missionary Heroines, 40-72.
110
Our Holiday, 302; Pitman, Missionary Heroines, 57. The Syrian Schools were established
following the 1860 Christian Druze conflict in Damascus.
160
won so many hearts and homes that the present troubles assailing the
British rule would, in all probability, be unknown.111
Mary Sumner also considered Christianity to contribute to good government, as
exemplified by the rule of England, for her the highest exemplar of a Christian
nation. Moreover, English men and women needed to embody the standards of
morality that in Mary Summer’s opinion made English rule superior. Mary Sumner
also prioritised the cultural and social capital of ‘Englishness’ above those of
different nationality, religion and ethnicity. In her accounts of Our Holiday and the
visit to Algiers, Mary Sumner asserted herself and her associates as bearers of
desirable cultural, social and religious capital by positive assertions of engagement
with cultural symbols, association with persons of status and anecdotes of
religious sensibility. Defining herself as a traveller and presenting her account in
print, was, in itself, an assertion of capital (implicitly economic and cultural and
also signifying intrepidity). In addition, Mary Sumner’s possession of (assumed)
superior symbolic capital was affirmed and asserted in contrast to examples of
difference perceived as indicative of deficiency. So, for Mary Sumner, the ‘east’
signified dirt, ignorance, heathenism, passion, childishness and the oppression of
women, whereas ‘English’ signified cleanliness, education, self-control, maturity
and ‘freedom’ for women. With the Bible as her guidebook, she approached her
journeys mis/recognising Protestant Christianity and ‘Englishness’ as superior and
legitimating of domination and like others of similar habitus, saw what she came
looking for.
Mary Sumner: habitus; wider network; mission via the
Girls’ Friendly Society
In 1874, Mary Sumner had become one of the original ‘Associates’ of the GFS.112
She sustained a parochial GFS branch at Old Alresford (1886) and served as Vice
President (1885) and then President of the Winchester Diocesan GFS (1887 and
1888).113 Her daughter, Louisa Gore Browne, (daughter-in law of Mrs Harold
111
Memoir of George Sumner, 50-51. Mary Sumner’s italics.
Heath-Stubbs, Friendships Highway, 218.
113
Ibid., 214.
112
161
Browne, wife of the Bishop of Winchester and member of the inaugural GFS
committee), was also active in the GFS.114 In 1911, Margaret Gore Browne, Mary
Sumner’s granddaughter (b.1886, later Mrs Evans) was Diocesan GFS President.115
Attention to the GFS is given as informative and affirmative of Mary Sumner’s
habitus pertinent to activism realised through the MU and relative to notions of
‘women’s mission’ and engagement overseas. Examination of the GFS also locates
Mary Sumner within a context of views on Empire and ‘race’, which while diverse
in emphasis, are united in prioritising religious capital as legitimising of gendered
roles, philanthropy, mission and empire. Although the GFS preceded the diocesan
MU by a decade, overseas expansion of the societies was largely
contemporaneous (c.1890-1914) and collaboration occurred between them in
field manoeuvres to promote a mutual religious agenda ‘at home’ and overseas.
The GFS was notable for its promotion of emigration. As noted in the previous
chapter, there was an overlap of GFS and MU personnel, notably in the context of
engagement overseas exemplified by Charlotte Yonge, an enthusiast for
missionary work and imperialists Laura Ridding and Ellen Joyce.116
The GFS: Woman’s mission, an appetite for service, missionary
philanthropy
The rationale for the GFS was religious.117 In the account of the GFS published in
Friendship’s Highway (1926). GFS ‘Foundress’, Mary Townsend, is reported as
saying, ‘I have always conceived of the GFS work as the nature of a Mission, the
Mission of Women to Women’.118 To prevent, ‘tales of shame and misery, of
wasted lives spent in the service of sin or vanity instead of in the service of
Christ’.119 GFS ‘lady’ Associates such as Mary Sumner and her daughters would in
their ‘wonderful mission for women among women’,120 act to promote religious
114
Winchester Diocesan Girls' Friendly Society. Winchester Diocesan GFS Council Minutes,
4 Oct. 1887, Winchester Diocesan Girls' Friendly Society: HRO 33M89/29.
115
Heath-Stubbs, Friendships Highway, 214.
116
See Appendix 2.
117
Gill, Women and the Church of England, 131-145, Chapter Six Piety and Philanthropy:
Women Volunteers in the Life of the Church. See Appendix 2 for Mary Townsend
118
Heath-Stubbs, Friendships Highway, 82.
119
Money, History, 4, 6. See previous chapter.
120
Anon, ‘Record of Events Report of the Church Congress at Hull’, Speech by Bishop of
Southwell George Ridding.
162
knowledge and observance amongst working class ‘girls’ by acting as moral
guardians and through providing ‘respectable’ leisure opportunities and
education. GFS Associates’ shared habitus gave them, in addition to class identity
and religious affiliation as Anglican communicants, an expectation of and an
appetite for, service.121 Mary Townsend’s assertion that ‘hundreds and hundreds
of devoted women are labouring for their young sisters’ welfare’,122 is given
credence by the personal column of The Monthly Packet of August 1875 (the first
year of the GFS), the magazine edited until 1890 by GFS Associate, Charlotte
Yonge. Whilst ‘Emilie would be grateful for linen or books to ‘distribute amongst
her poor people’, ‘PC’ offers thanks for donations for her ‘Winter Home for
Consumptives’.123 For Edith Moberly, GFS Diocesan President for Salisbury (18801887) philanthropic involvement was central to her sense of worth. The thought
of being obliged to give up such ‘work’ left her feeling bereft.124 The admission by
Miss Lucy Olivia Wright, who made a career as Central Secretary of the GFS from
1880 until her death in 1896, that: ‘I love the GFS’ [italics as source] is also
suggestive of philanthropic work experienced as affirmative of identify and sense
of purpose125 and indicative of a role and position in the field of philanthropy,
through which unmarried women could contribute their ‘maternal’ talents to
social improvement.126
Despite the extensive range of welfare work undertaken by the GFS that became
increasingly subject to state intervention,127 the GFS’s identity as a Church of
England society remained foremost. It looked upon itself as ‘one portion of that
121
Charlotte Yonge, Womankind (London and New York: Macmillan, 1890 f/p 1877), 8590.The chapter 'Charity' asserts alms giving as a religious duty and provides examples of
how young ladies may achieve this through the support of missions 'at home' or overseas
even if parents forbade direct contact with the poor; Prochaska, Women and
Philanthropy, 1-17.
122
Money, History, 5.
123
Anon, Monthly Packet, ‘Correspondence August 1875’, The Monthly Packet of Evening
Readings for Younger Members of the Church of England, 35.
124
Moberly, Dulce Domum, 213. The Moberleys were friends of Charlotte Yonge. At the
thought of giving up her boys' class in 1869 , her response was to say 'I am done for'.
125
Money, History, 45. This is in accord with the interpretation of women’s citizenship as
service to community in the MU and GFS.
126
Yeo, ‘Some Contradictions of Social Motherhood’, 122-123; See also Prochaska,
Women and Philanthropy, 6-8, 41, 124, for the 'maternal' role of unmarried women and
philanthropy as a rewarding and expected outlet for their energies.
127
Heath-Stubbs, Friendships Highway, 33-41. See Chapter V 'The Pilgrims at Work' for
cooperation with government on employment and training; Money, History, 12, 44.
163
great army of Christ, humbly seeking the spread of his kingdom’.128 It engaged in
field manoeuvres to promote its moral standards into the wider public sphere,
both nationally and overseas. ‘We are’ said Mrs Townsend, ‘a fighting
fellowship’.129 Members were exhorted to active witness of the religiously
sanctioned capital of chastity, temperance, thrift and prayer, which the GFS
espoused and Mary Sumner advocated for Mothers’ Union members. GFS
Associates believed that their girls should and did, provide an example of
desirable public conduct. According to Charlotte Yonge, reporting a conversation
with a local farmer: ‘the reason that the boys in this village are so much better
than they were, is because the GFS has a great deal to do with it, for if the boys
are not steady they say the girls will not speak to them.130 The GFS gave
conspicuous public demonstrations of its values by running wartime temperance
canteens, through the 1920 Pageant at the Albert Hall and via participation in the
White Crusade, a campaign for moral regeneration, in which the MU also
participated.131 The ‘White Horse’ project which converted a public house in inner
London to a social centre at this period is suggestive of ‘mission’ intent.132
The GFS: overseas mission and home identities
In promoting their belief in ‘Purity as the true standard for the womanhood of the
world’ [capitalisation as source], the GFS looked overseas.133 This reflected the
spread of members (and potential members) whose work took them abroad but
also the presence of expatriate potential Associates, frequently wives of clerics or
government officials, who sustained the GFS network.134 The department for girls
128
History, 47. '...because the sin we are specially banded to combat is ravaging the fold of
Christ [... ] lives should be devoted to this work'.
129
Heath-Stubbs, Friendships Highway, 4.
130
Winchester Diocesan Girls' Friendly Society, October 1893, Winchester Diocesan Girls'
Friendly Council Minutes: HRO 33M89.
131
Heath-Stubbs, Friendships Highway, 91-105, See Chapter XII 'The Motherland's Call to
the Pilgrims' for patriotic fund raising, the provision of hostels and service canteens and
co-operation with uniformed services.
132
Ibid., 111-112.
133
Ibid., 8.
134
Ibid., 226. GFS branches started in Scotland 1875, Ireland and the USA 1877, Canada
and Australia 1883, New Zealand 1884, South Africa 1889, Argentina and the West Indies
1910.
164
emigrating was initiated in 1886, (the year of the diocesan adoption of the MU),
under the supervision of Ellen Joyce.135
The GFS took inspiration from the work of missionary organisations and those
working on their behalf, who were seen to exemplify piety, devotion to others
and fortitude in hardship, in their engagement with overseas endeavour.136 This
reflected an interest in missionary work overseas.137 It was Mary Townsend’s view
that: ‘Helping to sustain the work of church and the GFS in distant lands [was] - a
wide and most legitimate field’. According to Mary Heath Stubbs, ‘from the early
days individual branches undertook the support of Missions.138 GFS support for
promoting Christianity overseas varied according to location. A key difference was
between the colonies (notably India), or transnational spaces where a non-white
indigenous population was prolific and the white settler colonies (later
Dominions) of Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa within the
empire.139
The GFS supported overseas missions in collaboration with the SPG and the
CMS.140 The first was in India at Lahore in 1885 and contributions were made to a
Church of England Zenana Mission Society (CEZMS) initiative dating from 1895.141
In 1897, the GFS undertook fundraising for mission work in Japan following the
appointment of Bishop Awdry, husband of GFS Central Council member, Mrs
135
Money, History, 44.
Judith Rowbotham, ‘Ministering Angels, Not Ministers: Women's Involvement in the
Foreign Missionary Movement, c.1860-1910’, in Women, Religon and Feminism in Britain,
1750-1900, ed. Sue Morgan (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002). Rowbotham notes
not all women workers on behalf of missions were official missionaries. Women tended to
work in an auxiliary capacity as ‘civilising agents’ rather than evangelising.
137
Anon Monthly Packet, ‘Correspondence August 1875. 48.’
138
Heath-Stubbs, Friendships Highway, 82.
139
Caroline Elkins and Susan Pedersen, ‘Introduction in Settler Colonialism: A Concept and
Its Uses’, in Settler Colonialism in the Twentieth Century; Projects, Practices, Legacies (New
York, N.Y. ; London: Routledge, 2005). Settler colonialism (as in South Africa and Australia)
is defined as differing from expansion by military domination or trade and an attempt to
establish communities identified by ties of ethnicity and faith in lands (despite the
presence of an indigenous population) perceived of as ‘empty’. Attitudes to indigenous
populations are thus characterised by attempts to eliminate or exclude, rather than
economic exploitation which are codified in law. Settler colonies may, although
dependent on the site of metropolitan power, seek autonomy from it.
140
Heath-Stubbs, Friendships Highway, 83.
141
Money, History, 67; Heath-Stubbs, Ibid., 84.
136
165
Awdry, to the diocese of Osaka.142 In China, the GFS supported one (1911), then
two (1919) CMS workers: by 1924 this had increased to eight.143 The GFS claimed
their own missionary martyr, Dr Alice Marval, who in 1903 at Cawnpore, ‘lost her
life, owing to her indefatigable labours among the plague stricken natives’.144 GFS
field manoeuvres in support of missions, in collaboration with the MU as initiated
under the leadership of Mary Sumner, will be noted in a following section.
Overseas links were drawn upon to consolidate the field position of the GFS ‘at
home’. Through the magazine Friendly Leaves, GFS members were encouraged to
identify with missionary activity as exemplifying desirable capital, envisage links
between ‘home’ and overseas and to note their own capital advantages defined in
contrast to indigenous women. In 1907, the column, ‘Our Own Affairs’, included
correspondence from a GFS member working as an SPG missionary in Simla and
news of ‘Our Own Worker [italics as source] in Japan’ who ‘has a daily class of sixty
eight policemen [...] who learn English and have a Bible lesson’.145 Support for
missionary activities and the adoption of overseas GFS branches by home
branches which extended the GFS field position overseas were also featured.146
There were also articles by missionary workers:147 ‘Foreign Missions’ and
‘Missions - India’ were set as comprehension questions for members following the
GFS Elementary Reading Union course. In answer to the question ‘Name some
contrasts between the lives of English and Indian girls’, the candidates wrote:
... to express thankfulness for the privileges which come to them as born in
our island kingdom, with the religious and social opportunities which are
theirs; whilst one emphatically declares that it should make them wish to
do all they could for their Indian sisters. It is to be hoped that those who
142
Heath-Stubbs, Friendships Highway, 83.
Ibid., 85.
144
Money, History, 68-69; Heath-Stubbs, 84.
145
Girls' Friendly Society, ‘Our Own Affairs India Ceylon Ireland’, Friendly Leaves, April
1907, 147; Anon, ‘Our Own Affairs News from Japan’, Friendly Leaves, March 1907, 115.
146
‘Our Own Affairs Diocesan Reports’, Friendly Leaves, June 1907, 211; ‘Our Own Affairs
Branch News 'a Shrewsbury Branch Member Working as an S.P.G. Missionary Writes...'‘,
Friendy Leaves, November 1907, 368.
147
Edith Scott, ‘Work at Lahore’, Friendly Leaves, May 1907, 170; Anon, ‘Our Worker in
Japan’, Friendly Leaves, May 1907, 180-181.
143
166
answered so well the questions on missionary work will keep up their
interest in it all their lives.148
The reference to the work of missionaries and missions in the official histories of
the GFS also emphasised the links between home and overseas. In 1905, Agnes
Money, reporting on GFS work in India, noted that: ‘few as yet of the native
Christian girls have joined’ but she made particular reference to Eurasians in
asserting the inclusiveness of the GFS:
Our Government classes them as Europeans; they are Christians; they dress
like ourselves and their daughters go to the High Schools with our English
girls. They have the greatest love for England and for all that belongs to it
and will speak of England as ‘home’ though they have never seen it and
know that they can never expect to do so. [...] We are rejoiced to welcome
these girls to our Society which is for girls of the English Empire
everywhere.’149
GFS worker Miss Townsend’s report of her 1904 visit to India to a meeting of
Branch Secretaries, combined an evocation of an exotic setting with an assertion
of the role of the society in the imperial project that associated the growth of
empire with the spread of Christianity. Like Money’s, hers was a vision of Christian
inclusiveness and she also claimed a space for women in the imperial field:
In that great work which England today is doing for her Indian Empire, I
have proud hopes that our GFS may play its part, helping to break down
racial distinctions, binding together Anglo – Indian, Eurasian and Christian
native with its chord of love and sympathy and prayer [.. .] shall there not
be room in this work for women by women? For after all is not our GFS a
section of that greater and fairer Temple, the Church of Christ, “whose
Builder and Maker is GOD”?150
148
‘Elementary Reading Union Foreign Missions and Course II Missions in India’, Friendly
Leaves, July 1907.
149
Money, History, 66-67. Money's comment overlooks the reality of racial prejudice
against Anglo-Indians; See Elizabeth Buettner, ‘'Not Quite Pukka': Schooling in India and
the Acquisition of Racial Status’, in Empire Families: Britons and Late Imperial India
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004). Buettner's analysis suggests that the predjudice
against Anglo-Indians was intense because of their presumption of 'whiteness' perceived
as an encroachment on the status of British expatriates.
150
Money, History, 70-71.
167
The GFS as a patriotic organisation identified with empire and used emigration as
a manoeuvre to extend its position in the imperial field.151 The ‘settler’
destinations of South Africa, Australia and Canada were of particular interest to
the GFS which promoted emigration through its own department,152 and via links
with Ellen Joyce’s Winchester Emigration Society, (to which Mary Sumner
subscribed),153 which later became part of the BWEA.154 Emigration was seen as
an opportunity for members to better themselves and contribute to the imperial
project by populating the Empire with ‘the right sort of woman’, Christian, chaste,
domesticated and (implicitly) white.155
For Ellen Joyce, who misrecognised the superiority of British cultural and
(Anglican) religious capital and conflated this with supposed racial attributes,
emigration was a civilizing religious mission. It was, ‘missionary work done by
hundreds rather than units’.156 This missionary work was to be achieved not just
by professing the faith and upholding the implicitly ‘civilized’ culture of ‘home’: to
ensure its success it required the physical reproduction of the ‘race’ in sufficient
numbers. In 1920 she wrote:
If England believes herself and the English speaking people to be the power
entrusted with the evangelization of that vast part of the globe that is
entrusted to their jurisdiction, then the duty of fully populating the fringes
of the huge Oversea [sic] Empire becomes paramount. If again, it is the
exponent of Purity, it must focus its efforts to distribute its daughters under
protection, where they can find their mates and help make homes pure,
happy and Christian.157
151
Bush, Edwardian Ladies, 142-143. In addition to Laura Ridding and Ellen Joyce as leading
GFS Associates was Lady Knightly of Fawsley a member of the pro-Imperial Primrose
league and editor of the BWEA’s magazine Imperial Colonist. See Appendix 2.
152
Friendly Leaves’ column for members emigrating advocated travelling with Mrs Joyce’s
escorted parties which fixed contacts in the country of destination. In June 1907, the
column concluded with a warning in bold type: ‘Caution - Agencies are not always to be
depended on: trust your own society’.
153
Anon, ‘Winchester Emigration Society Appeal for Funds‘, Hampshire Chronicle, 10 April
1886. The Sumners subscribed £5 to the Society. Mary gave a further pound to the Ladies'
Committee clothing scheme.
154
Heath-Stubbs, Friendships Highway, 219; Bush, ‘Joyce, Ellen (1832–1924)’.
155
Bush, 'The Right Sort of Woman'.
156
Money, History, 57; Heath-Stubbs, 70.
157
Heath-Stubbs, Friendships Highway, 76; Katie Pickles, Female Imperialism and National
Identity: Imperial Order Daughters of the Empire (Manchester: Manchester University
Press, 2002). Pickles notes the activites of the pro imperial IODE which included the
promotion of white emigration and motherhood.
168
The project of White Australia instigated in the decade following Australia’s
commonwealth status in 1901 introduced legislation excluding non - whites from
migrating to Australia.158 It codified for the first time British imperial citizenship
according to colour. It was intended to protect the white man’s preferential
status. It was perceived as a defence of ‘higher civilization’ by white settlers
fearful of being ‘swamped’ by ‘black and yellow races’.159 The implication for
white women was to exalt them as mothers: ‘Whereas white mothers were feted
and remunerated in the Commonwealth of Australia, Aboriginal women’s race
was invoked to deny their capacity for motherhood’.160 Ellen Joyce not only
asserted the moral contribution of women to the Empire but made the racial
dimension of the role of women explicit.161 In 1921, she asserted:
the absolute necessity in the cause of religion and morality, of stimulating
the Protected Migration of members, to parts of the Empire where good
women are really needed to preserve in those far parts of our possessions a
high standard of morals, [and] in equalising the sexes, to multiply a race
practising religious habits and in one part of our vast Dominions to keep for
King and Empire a “White Australia“.162
The notion of ‘women’s mission’, upheld by the GFS was informed by the
gendered doxa of Anglicanism, supported by the socially dominant class. GFS
organising Associates, in their misrecognition of this religiously circumscribed
notion of pure maternal womanliness, were themselves subject to the symbolic
violence that they perpetrated. Yet, the capital accrued by being ‘good church
women’, gave pedagogic authority and the opportunity for self-realisation and
power in a sphere of their own. GFS members were encouraged to support
missionary philanthropy ‘at home’ and the work of missionaries overseas. In so
158
S. R. Mehrotra, ‘On the Use of the Term ‘Commonwealth’’, Journal of Commonwealth
Political Studies 2, no. 1 (1963): 1-16.
159
Marilyn Lake and Henry Reynolds, ‘ White Australia Points the Way’, in Drawing the
Global Colour Line: White Men's Countries and the International Challenge of Racial
Equality (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 137-165.
160
Ibid., 156. See also 157-159 'Citizen Mothers' for discusison of eugenics and the
promotion of white motherhood and the maternity bounty of £5 paid only to white
mothers from 1912.
161
Bush, ‘Edwardian Ladies and the ‘Race‘ Dimensions of British Imperialism’.
162
Ellen Joyce, Letter to President of Winchester Diocesan G.F.S. Council 5 Nov. 1921,
WInchester Diocesan Girls' Friendly Society: HRO 33M89/25/12/1.
169
doing, they could contribute to the pedagogic work of Christianity by
demonstrating their elevated standards of morality and conduct in public ‘at
home’ and overseas.
Despite assertions of spiritual inclusivity for Christian indigenous populations in
colonies and other contact zones, the GFS was in accord with the misrecognition
of whiteness as superior racial capital. GFS emigrants to white settler colonies and
dominions were presented as pioneers participating in the valorous project of
exporting ‘English’ culture and Christianity to empty lands. It was also implicit
that these women would reproduce a white population. The spread of Christianity
was understood as an obligation, which served as a legitimising rationale for
imperial rule. The GFS used notions of gendered religious capital to claim space
for women in the imperial field: it asserted the significance of Christian women as
exemplars of superior capital and the notion of maternalism could be employed
to euphemise the symbolic (and actual) violence inherent in the prioritisation of a
white Christian English cultural arbitrary. GFS Associates also drew upon their
social status and location close to individuals in positions of authority: they also
secured pedagogic authority as experts in the field of emigration. Their
misrecognition of British/English racial and cultural superiority mirrored their
acceptance of social stratification. At grass roots level, in return for their
misrecognition of a religious doxa of class and gender stratification, GFS members
could perceive themselves as belonging to a religious and contingently cultural
and racial elite.
Mary Sumner: the Mothers’ Union, women’s mission and
philanthropy as mission
Women’s mission
Mary Sumner invested her experience in the GFS to inform the organisation of the
MU. She also made use of the opportunities for networking that the GFS provided
to promote the MU, as the previous chapter has noted. Mary Sumner’s remarks
from the GFS platform in 1885 (five years after her journey to the ‘East’) illustrate
170
her rationale for the MU, which saw homes as a territory where endeavour to
promote allegiance to religiously sanctioned standards of behaviour was needed
in order to combat immorality.163 In her 1888 book, To Mothers of the Higher
Classes, Mary Sumner altered the GFS motto, which would have been familiar to
her audience to read: ‘Bearing one another’s burdens and so, fulfilling the laws of
Christ’, in her advocacy for the pedagogic action of upper class women towards
the religious reform of ‘ignorant and weaker mothers’.164
The account of Mary Sumner’s first Church Congress speech, given in the officially
authorised Mary Sumner her Life and Work, is evocative of missionary enterprise
in its language and dramatic structure. The Church Congresses (initiated in 1861)
were an exercise by the established Church to promote its messages and gain
recruits. The location of the 1886 Church Congress at Portsmouth, ‘a great
densely populated sea port’, illustrates Church outreach into an urban district in
which the parochial structure and the personal sway of squire and cleric was less
robust than in its rural strongholds.165 The account, ‘Mrs Wilberforce’s Narrative’,
evokes need and deprivation in its description of the audience ‘many of them with
sad anxious faces, or bearing some unmistakable sign of poverty’s cold grip’.166
The account of Mary Sumner’s speech is also evocative of missionary valour in its
reference to her conquest of fear and by allusion to religious inspiration: ‘We who
listened to her felt that the Holy Spirit was manifestly guiding and strengthening
her, in an undertaking which at that time called for no little courage’.167 Mary
Sumner’s words, which associate women’s domestic role with ‘work for God’ and
nation, in which difficulties need conquest, are similarly evocative of a divinely
ordained and valorous cause:
My friends, as wives and mothers we have a great work to do for our
husbands, our children, our homes and our country and I am convinced that
it would greatly help us if we could start a Mothers’ Union, wherein all
classes could unite in faith and prayer, to try to do this work for God. With
163
Sumner, ‘Speech to the Annual G.F.S. Diocesan Conference at the George Hotel
Winchester’.
164
To Mothers of the Higher Classes, 56-57.
165
The kind of territory subject to attention from university and public school missioners
via the settlement movement. See Scotland, Squires in the Slums: Settlements and
Missions in Late Victorian Britain.
166
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 22, Mrs Wilberforce's Narrative.
167
Ibid., 23.
171
His help and inspiration we can conquer all difficulties and raise the HomeLife of our Nation.168
Mary Sumner was motivated by her perception that there were social ills
(drunkenness, immorality) that needed remediation and she attributed lack of
parental responsibility as contributory: ‘The ruin of thousands of lives is owing to
the neglect of the parents - above all the mother’.169 She also saw parental effort
as the means to correct this state of affairs: ‘The importance of a national effort
to awaken the conscience of parents came upon me as time went on’ and made it
an object of the MU’.170
The words of Mary Sumner’s Portsmouth speech reflect her understanding of the
notion of ‘women’s mission’, terminology that was used to legitimise assertions
concerning the domestic and maternal roles of women as divinely ordained and to
signal that women performing these roles as exemplars of Christian values had a
pedagogic function. Wives and mothers should ‘lead their families in purity and
holiness of life’.171 In her second address on marriage, Mary Sumner emphasised
the role of the wife as a religious influence on her husband by referring to St
Monica’s conversion of her husband to Christianity and by asserting that: ‘the
Bible tells us “the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife”’.172 She returned
to this theme in other addresses and extolled the importance of public prayer, ‘as
especially blessed’.173 Setting an example here was one way the MU member
could exert a moral influence and contribute to a ‘national reformation of life and
morals’.174 Mothers were (for example) exhorted to restrain the public behaviour
of their children and to exercise civic responsibility by alerting school teachers to
rude behaviour. They were also urged to encourage temperance and to avoid
gossip.175 Mary Sumner used her eulogy of Mrs Wordsworth (a GFS Activist and
wife of the Bishop of Salisbury) as an occasion for asserting the contribution of
168
Ibid.
Mary Sumner, ‘What Is the Mothers Union?’ (London: Gardner Darton and Co, n.d
surmised after 1896).
170
‘Founding’; Home Life, 10; Object of the Mothers' Union 2.
171
Home Life, 10. Objects of the Mothers' Union 3.
172
‘Marriage 2’, 21, 22.
173
‘Churchgoing’, Home Life. 117-126. 126.' Very often a church going wife makes a
churchgoing husband'; ‘Prayer’, Home Life. 106.
174
Home Life, 9.
175
‘Purity’, 45, 46; ‘Words’, Home Life. 49-59. 59.
169
172
homemakers to the wider common good: ‘She held firmly to the belief that to
touch the life of the community at large, it was absolutely necessary to begin with
the home and to influence the wife and mother’.176 The MU drew on the tradition
of philanthropic patronage exercised by ‘ladies’ to social subordinates in the same
way (and frequently via the same personnel) as the GFS. It also sought, (again like
the GFS), to assert the significance of the contribution of members upholding the
standards of womanhood espoused by the organisation.
Mary Sumner evoked a sense of missionary identity for the society and its
members by identifying mothers as workers for a religious cause, through
comments in her writing, in committee minutes and in material published in the
MUJ. The minutes of a diocesan MU Council Meeting, in 1898, recorded that:
‘Members of every class should feel that they are workers for the Mothers’ Union
both inside and outside their homes by their influence and example’.177 In a letter
to an overseas president, Mary Sumner was even more explicit: ‘We must get the
members of our Mothers’ Union to act as missionaries amongst their relations
and friends, helping to bring the Christian life into the darkened homes where as
yet our dear Lord is not loved and honoured.178
The Mothers’ Union in the field of philanthropic organisations ‘at
home’
Mary Sumner considered the MU as essentially a spiritual society, distinguished
by the three ‘Objects’, but upholding these were seen to achieve practical
improvements. Writing in the MUJ, Mary Sumner quoted an Associate
correspondent: ‘The whole of my neighbourhood has been raised since we started
a Mothers’ Union’.179 In her undated leaflet, What is the Mothers’ Union? Mary
Sumner justified the MU in the populous field of other philanthropic initiatives:
How does the Mothers’ Union affect the success of other societies and
organizations - it is at the root of every one of them - if home life is good
176
‘In Memoriam Mrs Wordsworth’, MIC, No. 16 October 1894, 202.
WDMU Committee, ‘Minute Book 1886-1910’, Council Meeting at The Close 15 Nov.
1898.
178
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 41.
179
Mary Sumner, ‘Hints to Associates’, MIC, April 1891.
177
173
and the mother is a Christian woman - cruelty to children will be checked,
morality will be taught (girls self-respect, boys chivalry and self-control) kindness to animals inculcated.180
The mission of the MU and its achievements were publicised in Church and
philanthropic forums and via the press.181 MU workers and sympathisers,
including Mary Sumner herself, Laura Ridding and Ellen Joyce, were a presence at
Church Congresses182 and MU representatives also participated from 1895 in the
conferences of the National Union of Women Workers (NUWW).183 Mary Sumner
contributed her paper ‘The Responsibilities of Mothers’ to Baroness BurdettCoutts’ 1893 compendium of writing on diverse aspects of women’s philanthropic
work, ‘Woman’s Mission Congress Papers’.184 Field manoeuvres also sought to
secure transnational recognition for the MU. In November 1917, Miss Lucy
Soulsby represented the MU at the International Congress of the World’s Purity
Federation in Kentucky.185
Mary Sumner used her personal influence to keep MU workers active. In a letter
to Mrs Sharme, a local Branch President she wrote:
I should be so glad if you could tell me personally what has been done in
your branch... meetings held ... any fresh members... it is vital that there
should be weekly or fortnightly religious meetings held for Bible and Prayer
180
'What Is the Mothers Union?’: HRO 38M499/E7/106, surmised date after 1895.
Letters to Mrs Maude: LPL MU/CO/PRES/5/4, 8 April 1915; Beatrice Temple, E., Mary
Sumner, E.and Eleanor Chute, J., ‘Letters to the Editor - Women Workers for India’, The
Times, 27 Sep. 1907; Anon, ‘Record of Events Report of the Church Congress at Hull’;
‘Leading Societies and Their Work: The Mothers' Union’, Hearth and Home an Illustrated
Weekly Journal for Gentlewomen, 28 Jan. 1892; Yonge, ‘Conversation on the Mothers'
Union’.
182
Sumner, ‘Paper Read at the Church Congress in Hull 1890’; Ridding, ‘Guardianship of
Working Girls’; WDMU Committee, ‘Minute Book 1886-1910.’ Report from Mrs Joyce on
the Rhyl Church Conference women's work for women section, 29 Nov. 1891.
183
‘Minute Book 1886-1910,’ 4 Oct. 1895. The NUWW was instigated by Emily Janes, its
first President was Louise Creighton an activist in the GFS and MU and Laura RIdding was
its President 1909-1911; Lady Laura Ridding, The Early Days of the National Union of
Women Workers, Selborne Papers: HRO 9/M68/73/53. Bush, Edwardian Ladies, 176-177.
The National Union of Women Workers was a forum for women’s philanthropic groups
(including the MU and GFS). It asserted the contribution of this ‘work’ to the nation. Bush
draws attention to the number of ladies active in the pro-Imperial Victoria League,
Primrose League and BWEA who took leadership positions in the NUWW. She notes
amongst others, Maude Selborne (Laura Ridding’s sister-in-law), Frances Balfour, Edith
Lyttleton, Millicent Fawcett and Lady Frederick Cavendish. See Appendix 2 Female
Imperial Networks.
184
Burdett-Coutts, Woman's Mission.
185
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 141.
181
174
book teaching for members and any other mothers they can bring with
them.186
She was defensive of the MU’s identity and position as the Anglican organisation
for mothers. The Winchester Diocesan Committee resolved that, ‘it was not
advisable to affiliate a Mothers’ League which has been started in one part of
Bournemouth’.187 Mary Sumner asserted the distinctiveness of her organisation
from the GFS: ‘We are an entirely separate Society’.188 The suggestion in the
Church Family Newspaper that there should be an additional Church organisation
for women drew a strong reaction.189 In a 1915 letter to Lady Chichester (MU
president 1910-16), Mary Sumner wrote: ‘I do trust you will stop another society
[...] the pamphlets [enclosed] are likely to convince Mr Corbett against the fresh
society proposed.190 She repeated these sentiments to Mrs Maude, the central
secretary of the MU: ‘I do trust the Mothers’ Union is not going to unite with
other leagues and clubs’.191 However collaboration with other organisations
sympathetic to the MU’s agenda of social and moral reform was also an aspect of
MU field manoeuvres (see Figure 4 below).192 The Southwell Women’s League,
started by Mary Sumner’s friend Laura Ridding, was given a dispensation to use
the MU prayer.193
Although distinct from the GFS, the MU did have a close relationship with it: GFS
girls were likely after marriage to form the constituency of MU membership. The
MU drew on the expertise of the GFS. MU members were to be warned of the
dangers posed by unscrupulous employment registries to their daughters and the
GFS Registry Office list was suggested as suitable. The organisations collaborated
186
Mary Sumner, Letter Mrs Sharme 22 Aug. 1915: LPL MU/CO/PRES/5. Ellipsis as source.
WDMU Committee, ‘Minute Book 1886-1910’, 8 Nov. 1893: HRO 45M85/C2/1.
188
Sumner, ‘Letter Concerning Misconceptions on the Mothers' Union’.
189
Princess Christian of Schleswig Holstein, Letter to Mrs Sumner, n.d.: LPL
MU/CO/PRES/5/6. Princes Christian asks for clarification as to why Mr Corbett's views are
'so objectionable'.
190
Sumner, ‘Letters to Lady Chichester’, 26 July 1915.
191
‘Letters to Mrs Maude’, 8 April 1915.
192
C.B. Mayne, Letters from the British Committte of International Federation for the
Abolition of State Regulation of Vice, 22 July, 25 July 1919: LPL MU/CO/PRES/5/4.
193
WDMU Committee, ‘Minute Book 1886-1910’, MU Council Meeting 26November 1890.
As a married woman without children Lady Laura Ridding could not comfortably lead a
branch of the MU. Her solution was the Southwell Women’s League, which had similar
religious aims to the MU.
187
175
in seeking state regulation of employment registries.194 As noted in the previous
chapter, the MU and GFS were united in protesting against easier facilities for
divorce,195 and issued a joint ‘Protest’ in opposition to a proposed legislation to
allow marriage to the sister of a deceased wife.196 In 1914 the MU in cooperation
with the GFS appointed a moral ‘Vigilance Worker’ for Ireland.197
Figure 4: Mary Sumner’s Mission Network Connections
CEZMS
World Purity Federation
British Committee of
International
Federation for the
Abolition of State
Regulation of Vice
Royalty
BWEA
Laura Ridding
NUWW
Ellen Joyce
CMS
GFS
Bishops - colonial
and missionary
Mary Sumner
Mothers’ Union
Church of England
Temperance
Society
Expatriate
Associates
YMCA
Church of England Mens’
Society
Girl Guides
SPG
Army
Colonial
administration
Bishops’ wives and
daughters overseas
Mrs Montgomery
Pan Anglican Lambeth
Conferences
Mary Sumner and the Mothers’ Union: missionary
philanthropy ‘home’ links, missionary and other overseas
networks
The MU is compatible with Twell’s category of missionary philanthropy in that its
aims and practices were evangelical. Mary Sumner intended that the MU should
promote the witness of faith.198 Mothers should act to ‘influence’ public opinion
and conduct towards standards of behaviour sanctioned by the Church.199 As the
previous chapter noted, the MU as a religious mass organisation achieved a
prominent position in the contested field of religion, notably in the dominant sub
field of Anglicanism, where Anglican women workers were recognised as
194
Ibid., November 1898.
See previous chapter Section 3.5 and 3.7.
196
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 112.
197
Heath-Stubbs, Friendships Highway, 170.
198
MU Object Three; Home Life, 10.
199
Sumner, Home Life, 139-140.
195
176
supportive of the Church in the context of pressure from secularisation and rival
denominations. The MU also achieved recognition in relation to other
organisations in the (frequently related and overlapping) field of philanthropy.
Mary Sumner: fields and power; the Mothers’ Union;
missionary organisations; colonies and contact zones;
Church and empire
Missionary identities and inspiration linking home and overseas
Mary Sumner, through the MU, was responsive to the extension and
reconfiguration of fields in colonies and empire and to the perception of that
expansion in the British metropole. The MU’s expansion overseas was associated
with the dispersal of women of the social and religious allegiance from which MU
Associates were drawn (see Figure 4). This was associated with the presence of
the armed forces, the outreach of the Church in colonies, imperial dominions, or
in areas of missionary endeavour and emigrant destinations. In 1914, MU
literature was being provided for emigrant passengers on the ships of the White
Star and Cunard lines.200 According to Moyse, the initial focus of MU mission was
to promote the upholding of Christian values amongst expatriate mothers, such as
soldiers’ wives. The initiative of individual activists in starting branches overseas
was, as at home, significant.201 The first individual overseas branches were
established in the white settler colonies of Canada (Ontario) and New Zealand
(Christchurch) in 1888.202 In 1891, Mary Sumner claimed branches for expatriates
in India, Africa, Tasmania and Australia.203 By 1895, the MU was organised in
Ceylon. Following the central organization of the MU in 1896, an Overseas
Committee was established and it was at this time that the first branches for
indigenous (rather than expatriate) members were initiated in Hong Kong and
India.204 The first conference of overseas members was in 1897.205 In 1899, the
200
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 133.
Moyse, History of the Mothers' Union, 80.
202
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 111.
203
Mrs Malden, ‘Wanted: Some Educated Mothers’, MIC October 1892, January 1891, 5.
204
Moyse, History of the Mothers' Union, 84.
205
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 41.
201
177
West Indies, Japan, Cairo, Malta and South America had MU organisation.206 The
end of the South African ‘Boer’ War in 1902 was the catalyst for attempts at
reconstruction in South Africa that raised questions about the conduct of colonial
rule and the negotiation of ‘race’. It also stimulated popular enthusiasm for and
awareness of, the imperial project. It was in this year that the MU was first
organised in South Africa, but as Laura Ridding observed during her 1908 tour,
branches were racially segregated.207
As in the GFS, the field manoeuvres to extend the MU overseas also served to
support the society ‘at home’. The theme of connecting ‘home’ and overseas runs
through MU literature, corporate practice and the personal networking of Mary
Sumner (and other members). MU members were to see themselves as part of a
network connected by their allegiance as Christian women. The Winchester
Diocesan Council passed a resolution to request ‘friends going to South Africa to
become members before they go and to start branches on their arrival’. The
resolution was proposed by Mrs Chute and seconded by Mrs Joyce, who were
both prominent in the GFS and in the case of Ellen Joyce (as previously noted), the
promoter of emigration.208 The network offered channels of communication
whereby intelligence from overseas ventures could be relayed ‘home’ and ‘home’
news and values exported. The practice of twinning a ‘home’ and overseas branch
began to develop. In 1915, Mary Sumner wrote to the MU secretary, Mrs Maude,
concerning a letter she had received:
... from a branch called Sumner in New Zealand asking me if they could be
linked with a Home Branch connected with me personally. I wrote to Mrs
Preston [Old Alresford] asking if it were possible [...] are there any special
forms or papers when a Home Branch is just linked with a foreign one?209
The MU magazines were an important networking medium for providing
members, especially those separated by distance, with a sense of contact and
unity of purpose. The MUJ (for ordinary members) included references to
missionary activity in reports from branches such as the ‘interesting address by
Miss O’Connor a medical missionary’ given at Rochester and the ‘lantern
206
Ibid., 36.
Ibid.
208
WDMU Committee, ‘Minute Book 1886-1910’, 25 June 1901.
209
Sumner, ‘Letters to Mrs Maude’, 13 Feb. 1915.
207
178
entertainment’ on ‘The Mothers’ Union in Many Lands’ with which the Reverend
Miller had entertained the Manchester branch.210 Reports also came from
branches overseas. The January 1908 edition featured reports from South Africa,
India and the West Indies, illustrating that MU lantern slides were used as an aid
to recruitment. In India back copies of the MUJ were ‘so much appreciated by
soldiers’ wives’.211 In 1917, Mothers in Australia was started but according to
Porter (writing in 1921) ‘many members however, especially those not long from
their home country still take the MUJ’.212
MIC (for ‘educated’ members) also featured reports from overseas including from
the organisers of army branches.213 A report from the MU in New Zealand hoped
that ‘the Union may be especially useful in the colony in helping to keep up family
ties’.214 MIC readers were also given news relating to overseas and mission
themes such as the report of Mrs Bishop’s (Isabella Bird) address, ‘Home Life in
Foreign Countries’. It asserted that although women in Asia (Japan, China and
India) had little status, European influence, without high Christian standards, was
corrupting to indigenous people, a view in accord with Mary Sumner’s position.215
Later the formal involvement of the MU in work with missionary organisations
was also reported. Letters to Mary Sumner from Miss King, the SPG missionary
and MU worker, featured in 1906, 1909, 1910 and 1912 editions.216 As in the GFS,
accounts of missionary success emphasised the joyfulness and simplicity of the
faith of converts. One of Gertrude King’s ‘dear old ladies preparing for Holy
Baptism [..] was disappointed after her first class because she had not been
confirmed’, but commented ‘my heart will ascend to God’. Gertrude King noted:
’It is wonderful to see their faces change as they grow nearer the realities of the
faith.’217
210
MUJ, January 1901, 23,22.
Ibid., January 1908, 7-8.
212
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 144.
213
MIC, January 1893, 57.
214
MIC, October 1892, 190.
215
Ibid., January 1893, 249. In 1899 she addressed MU central conference on similar
themes. See Moyse, 82. See also Appendix 2
216
Gertrude King, ‘Reports from Miss King in Madagascar’, MIC, October 1906, 253;
January 1909, 49; January 1910, 58-59;October 1912, 248.
217
Ibid., January 1910, 57-58.
211
179
Missionary activity overseas was also drawn upon to inspire activism and create a
sense of missionary identity ‘at home’. Mrs Malden’s article, ‘Wanted: Some
Educated Mothers’ catalogued the good work of ‘bands of mothers over the
Empress Queen’s Dominions’, before asserting the need for more Associates ‘at
home’.218 In the October 1898, edition Mary Sumner advocated support for
missions by prayer and subscription and also suggested that MU members might
be mission workers themselves.219
Missionary exploits were also featured in the stories that appeared in the MUJ to
signal what the MU considered to be desirable attributes. The October 1902
edition recounted ‘a true story of missionary work in prison’ and the heroism of
missionaries in upholding religious values in adversity was referred to in the story
‘Mother’s’ Teaching’.220 ‘The Missionary Mother’ recounted the story of a ‘poor
tired Mother’ who takes her son, as a treat, to hear a missionary speaker. The boy
is inspired and overcomes many difficulties to achieve his dream of becoming a
missionary in China. After winning many converts and plaudits from his Bishop, he
succumbs to martyrdom (during the Boxer uprising); leaving his mother to be
comforted by the thought of the great work he did for God and the anticipation of
reunion in heaven.221
Field manoeuvres: support for missionaries; links with missionary
organisations
Support for missions was a way to demonstrate Christian virtues through
philanthropy and the promotion of the faith. It was also a way to indicate concern
for and difference from those considered to fall within a ‘deficit’ category. Mary
Sumner’s enthusiasm for the work of overseas missions as expressed in her travel
diary, Our Holiday in the East and affirmed by her experiences in Algeria in
1892/3,222 was reflected in an 1898 Winchester Diocesan MU Committee
resolution:
218
Mrs Malden, ‘Wanted: Some Educated Mothers.’ MIC, October 1892, 263.
Mary Sumner, MIC, October 1898, 211-213.
220
MUJ, October 1902, 84; April 1901, 27.
221
MUJ, October 1901, 78-85.
222
Our Holiday; Memoir of George Sumner, Chapter X, Buxton and Algiers.
219
180
That it would be well to bring before members the duty of the Mothers’
Union to help in sending women medical missionaries to try to raise home
life in Zenanas and Harems – It is strongly agreed that Mothers’ Union
members support Mission Zenana work through the SPG or Church of
England Zenana Society .223
The MU and GFS jointly provided funding for workers to support their
organisations and parochial work in several districts and Mary Sumner fostered
network contacts with ‘GFS ladies who are speaking for the Mothers’ Union in
India, so that they might join the Mothers’ Union as Associates’.224 In 1907, Mary
Sumner wrote jointly to The Times, with Eleanor Chute of the GFS and Beatrice E.
Temple of the SPG, detailing the existing collaboration between the societies. The
article canvassed lady volunteers of means, ‘as full stipends cannot be paid’, to
contribute to nurturing the faith of expatriate and converted women. Whilst Mary
Sumner and her co-authors noted that: it ‘was not direct missionary work’, it was
‘work for the Master’ and the letter claimed that: ‘The uplifting of the tone of
those who are representative of the Christian religion in a heathen country must
tend to the spread of the Gospel of Christ’.225
The MU, working in collaboration with the Anglican SPG, CMS and CEZMS,
provided further financial support for an increasing number of what were referred
to as mission workers, thereby contributing to the recognition of the contribution
of women in the field of mission. The MU’s Overseas Department dealt with ‘the
vast amount of correspondence’ from overseas and was a conduit for passing on
missionary news to the MU membership.226 The earliest MU African Branch for
indigenous women was instigated by Miss Gertrude King, circa 1901, in the French
colony of Madagascar.227 From 1909, Miss Rix, at the request of the SPG, was
supported by the MU in work in Southern India and Miss Davis, a worker under
the direction of the CMS, ‘beloved by many hundreds of friends and supporters
both at home and in southern India’, was appointed in 1913. Miss Loader, a
worker in China amongst Christian converts was also supported.228 In 1918, a third
223
WDMU Committee, ‘Minute Book 1886-1910,’ 24 Feb. 1898.
Mary Sumner, Letter to Lady Horatia Erskine 14 Sep. 1906: LPL MU BOX 452/4.
225
Temple, Sumner and Chute, ‘Letters to the Editor - Women Workers for India’.
226
Mothers' Union, Fifty Years, 30.
227
Gertrude King, Letters to Mary Sumner: LPL MU/OS/5/13/08, 25 March 1902.
228
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 130.
224
181
worker for India was funded. Miss Gibson of the CEZMS was appointed to work
specially for the MU and ‘endeared herself and her work to many MU members
during her furlough in England - a time that was much prolonged owing to her
illness’.229 In 1920, Miss Norah Short was appointed to work with railway workers
and their families in Southern Africa and by 1925, ‘six Mothers’ Union Workers
were wholly maintained by our overseas fund’.230
Mary Sumner (like Charlotte Yonge) demonstrated her endorsement of overseas
work through financial donations.231 The ‘Buttress Fund’ established as a
memorial to George Sumner and subscribed to by members from overseas,
provided a surplus of £250 which Mary Sumner donated to ‘overseas work’ in
1915.232
Mary Sumner field manoeuvres: networking overseas, the mother
of the Mothers’ Union, attitudes to indigenous members
Just as the Queen Empress embodied the empire, Mary Sumner personified the
MU. Porter, Woodward and Erskine eulogised ‘Mrs Sumner’s part in the world
wide extension of the MU [through] her personal share by her pen, by her prayers
and by that true mother’s love that went out to all the daughter branches of her
beloved union in far off lands’.233 The field manoeuvre of networking that Mary
Sumner deployed to promote the organisation included giving influential workers
and rank and file members a sense that they were remembered and valued by
‘the Foundress’. This 1917 letter to Mrs Crawford from Adelaide is typical of Mary
Sumner’s approach in style and content (including the inclusion of leaflets):
Your letter has given me very great pleasure and I heartily thank you for
your love and belief in our “Mothers’ Union”- How thankful I am that you
tell me that the union is strong in S. Australia! And will you give my
heartfelt and affectionate Good Wishes when you write. I was so glad to be
introduced to you at the dedication of our “Mary Sumner House” and I trust
it will be the means of spreading our Christian faith in Hearts and Homes
229
Ibid., 146.
Mothers' Union, Fifty Years, 30.
231
Sumner, ‘Letters to Lady Chichester’.
232
Mothers' Union, Fifty Years, 31; Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 134;
Sumner, ‘Letters to Lady Chichester’.
233
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 36.
230
182
throughout our Nation and Empire [...] will you give my very special
sympathy and love to the dear mothers in Adelaide Diocese who are
sending their husbands and sons to fight with our home troops [...] I
remember them daily in prayers and I feel God is blessing us in this
Righteous war[...]Remember me to the Bishop of Stafford; will you accept a
copy of my leaflet on religious education and one besides to give away?234
Three years later in 1920 (aged 91), she was still seeking to pursue overseas
contacts and was ‘anxious to get in touch with Bishops’ wives who are coming
from overseas for the Lambeth conference of Anglican Bishops’.235 The MU hosted
its conference of overseas workers, many of whom were Diocesan Presidents, at
the same time.236
Overseas members could identify with Mary Sumner as a celebrity. According to
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, mementoes and anecdotes of Mary Sumner kept
her ‘linked with the loneliest member and the remotest branch’. New Zealand
members appreciated ‘photographs of Winchester Cathedral and particularly the
one showing your own [Mary Sumner’s] home’.237 An Australian Diocesan
President, quoted by Porter, gives further testimony to Mary Sumner as
representative of the organisation and a link with the ‘mother country’:
So many of our mothers lived in England once and some have been here
quite a short time: and it is so touching the way they come up to me at
meetings and tell me of the English Branch to which they belonged and how
- in many cases they ‘once’ heard you speak or ‘once’ saw you.238
Links with members in colonial or other contact zones (such as China and
Madagascar) emphasised the spatial construct of ‘home’ and distant places. As
with the settler colonies, Mary Sumner’s maternal personification of the
organisation and personal touch was applied to indigenous members of the MU,
as well as to expatriates nostalgic for the ‘mother country’. Miss Rix from India
noted that Mary Sumner’s letter to mothers had been translated into Tamil.239
Correspondence between Mary Sumner and indigenous members is indicative of
234
Mary Sumner, Letter to Mrs Crawford, 19 June 1917, WDMU: HRO 145M85/A12; See
also ‘Letters to Mrs Maude’, 5 Aug. 1917, 'Mary Sumner would like to see the President of
the Ottawa MU and asks for her address'.
235
‘Letters to Mrs Wilberforce ‘, 7 June 1920.
236
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner.
237
Ibid., 40.
238
Ibid., 41.
239
Ibid., 40.
183
her ‘maternalistic’ attitude to non-white women and reflective of misrecognition
of the legitimacy of a hierarchical stratification of ‘race’ and culture.240 The
adoption of Christianity by indigenous people, in what were perceived from the
British/English metropole as less civilized exotic locations, was for Mary Sumner
an achievement to be celebrated.241 ‘Do you know I have 500 dear black
daughters in Madagascar?’242 The presentation of this material in her 1921
memoir and the account of the development of the MU are also affirmative that
this was considered worthy of celebration and ‘bringing home to’ members. The
MU branch established in Madagascar (then under French colonial rule) was
notable as the earliest in Africa. It was started by Miss Gertrude King, the sister of
the Bishop of Madagascar, working under the aegis of the SPG.243 Miss King
corresponded with Mary Sumner via the Overseas Committee.244 Miss King’s
testimony is drawn on by Porter, Woodward and Erskine:
From the moment our foundress heard of the need of a Mothers’ Union
work in Madagascar, she took the Malagasy mother to her heart. Needless
to say they idealised her and she became to them the embodiment of all
that is highest and best in motherhood. Wonderful letters passed between
them, Mrs Sumner always began, ‘My dear daughters’ and ended as ‘your
loving white mother’. 245
The Malagasy mothers did not challenge Mary Sumner’s assumption of parental
authority, they replied to Mary Sumner’s letter of welcome to the MU: ‘We, your
children, were very pleased to receive your letter of welcome into the Mothers’
240
Moyse, History of the Mothers' Union, 140-141, 149. Moyse comments on the 'colonial
mentality' of the MU leadership in the period 1910-1940 which she sees as reinforced by
the insistence on monogamy, chastity and western notions of the nuclear family. She also
notes: ‘the different treatment of indigenous members on the basis that they were new to
Christianity and, by implication, to civilized standards of female behaviour’.
241
Stanley, ‘Church State and the Hierarchy of 'Civilization': The Making of the World
Missionary Conference, Edinburgh 1910’. Stanley notes the acceptance without challenge
of imperial power as a given and the embedded assumption of racial superiority and the
categorisation of ‘races’ and cultures according to perceived degrees of 'civilization'.
242
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 37.
243
Prevost, Communion of Women, 123-155, Chapter 'Christianising Womanhood in
Madagascar'. Prevost notes that Malagasy mothers were encouraged to evangelise their
faith and act as role models for other mothers with recruitment in mind in a way similar to
the expectations of English members. This also accords with the onus placed on GFS girls
to exemplify a moral standard and encourage faith by example. Prevost considers that the
MU engagement in Madagascar under Miss King enlarged the status, opportunity and
authority of women in missionary work.
244
King, ‘Letters to Mary Sumner’.
245
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 37; for references to 'child like natives'
see Our Holiday, 108, 215, 278.
184
Union’.246 Porter, Woodward and Erskine include further references to
appreciation of Mary Sumner as a figure of maternal authority. Chinese members
wrote:
We feel it was God’s grace that you were allowed to begin such a Union,
thus showing your great love to the little, little children of China and by this
means also to teach us women of China good methods of carefully bringing
up and educating our children – a work beyond our human strength (divine
help needed).247
The evocation of a parent child relationship and difference in colour was not only
evoked by Mary Sumner. Following the themes of gratitude Porter, Woodward
and Erskine recorded that following the 1914-18 war:
Touching presents of money came also from native and coloured members
in South Africa for fellow members at home, to convey, in the gift-language
of the child-races, their sympathy for white mothers in the bereavements of
war.248
Mary Sumner, the Mothers’ Union, empire and the Church overseas
The MU’s overseas development was bound together with the growth of Empire.
Its spread was frequently initiated by women with spouses associated with the
enforcement of imperial rule via the army. It was also associated with women
close to authority in imperial government, such as Lady Victoria Buxton, wife of
the Governor of South Australia, an instigator of the Adelaide MU and the
Countess of Glasgow, the wife of the Governor General of New Zealand.249 The
MU (like the GFS) was a patriotic organisation. Its establishment of a central
constitution in 1896 gave the society national identity. The MU had royal
patronage from 1897. Until 1901, this was in the maternal figure of the Queen
Empress, who singularly personified head of state and head of Church. For Mary
Sumner (and others in her network), Christianity and nation were synonymous, as
246
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner. 38.
Ibid., 39.
248
Ibid., 144.
249
Moyse, History of the Mothers' Union, 80. Mothers' Union Handbook and Central
Report 1897, 50, 56.
247
185
were whiteness (with Englishness prioritised) and cultural superiority.250 Imperial
rule was justified as Christian mission and the articulation of this as the obligation
of the enlightened towards those in ‘darkness’ illustrated the appropriation of
legitimising religious language.251 The Queen as maternal icon and the rhetoric of
the ‘mother country’ were drawn on to identify and assert the contribution of
mothers to the imperial project.252 If, as Mary Sumner asserted, ‘Eastern races’
were ‘paralysed by ignorance’ and the ‘advance of the nation greatly depended
on the domestic life and personal influence of the mother’, Christian mothers had
much to contribute to the empire as exemplars of desirable standards.253
Mary Sumner was convinced of the superiority of the ‘sterling purity of British
Character, a character on which our national prosperity has been built’.254 She
wrote: ‘As a nation we pride ourselves on our truthfulness and not without
reason. An Englishman’s word is held to be sacred and men trust us.’255 She
‘believed that: ’the English home was said to be model for the world’.256 For Mary
Sumner, laudable ‘English’ characteristics were attributable to the religious
identity of the nation and were the rationale for imperial rule. This ideal needed
to be upheld.257 Mary Sumner exhorted ‘all [italics as source] English women’ to
set an example of the highest standards of Christian behaviour. She saw this as
important because the English reputation and therefore the moral legitimacy of
imperial rule were at stake.258
250
Bush notes Cecil Rhodes, Charles Dilke, J.R Seeley, Alfred Milner and Joseph
Chamberlain as key imperial propagandists, see Edwardian Ladies, 1, 107-110. 'Intrinsic to
the imperial outlook was a self definition of the British (often, interchangeably
'Englishmen') as a peculiarly gifted race with an insatiable need to exercise their colonizing
genius for the benefit of less fortunate others'. Bush also notes the ‘gradual elision of
racial and national identities. Anglo-Saxons were assumed to be British and indeed usually
English’. She also draws attention to notions of racial hierarchy related to social Darwinism
and Eugenics.
251
Memoir of George Sumner, 50-51, 93; Money, History, 57; Heath-Stubbs, Friendships
Highway, 70, 71, 76; Lady Laura Ridding, The Call of Empire, Selborne Papers: HRO
9M68/73/14; Bourdieu, ‘Authorised Language'.
252
Moyse, History, 80-86; Bush, Edwardian Ladies, 69.
253
Mary Sumner, ‘Secular Education’, MIC October 1894.
254
Sumner, Erskine and Wilberforce, ‘Letter to the Editor The Times, 'Undesirable
Literature'.
255
Sumner, ‘Truth’, 41; See Bush, Edwardian Ladies, 105-110.
256
‘The Home.’
257
‘A Mother's Greatest Duty’, 22.
258
Memoir of George Sumner, 51-52.
186
The South African War of 1899-1902 was significant for the MU, GFS and other
women’s organisations in serving to focus enquiry into South Africa, raise
questions concerning racial coexistence and to engender enthusiasm for
Empire.259 In 1902, the year of British victory and the coronation of Edward VII,
the MU signalled its imperial identity with an amendment to its second object.
The words ‘the Empire’ were substituted for ‘England’ so that it read: ‘To awaken
in mothers a sense of their great responsibility as mothers in the training of their
boys and girls (the future fathers and mothers of Empire)’. In 1904, Mary Sumner
claimed at the MU Central Council that the organisation was a presence in nearly
every British colony.260 In the MU Handbook and Central Report of the same year
(p30-41) Mrs Philip’s account of her mission to South Africa averred that the MU
had an imperial mission.261 MU (and GFS) activist Laura Ridding, a supporter of
the 1903 South African Colonisation Society (SACS), undertook an extended tour
of South Africa in 1908.262 While there, she kept a notebook which included
reflections on social and educational issues and ‘the native problem’.263 In her
1909 paper, ‘The Call of the Empire’ she asserted an aspirational vision of empire
and explained the virtues of empire and women’s role in it,264 an ideal not
matched by the realities of colonial rule in the recent South African conflict, nor in
other parts of the empire.265 For Laura Ridding, the empire should be ‘a federation
of free peoples under one flag or crown governed by their willing consent’ and
she considered that: ‘the British government was the only one which stands for
freedom for native races’.266 While subscribing to Christian notions of spiritual
inclusiveness, she was less certain about temporal equality. She noted the failure
of the MU to engage with coloured and native girls, a failure she attributed to the
low standard of morals amongst the indigenous people and to the reluctance of
259
See Bush, Edwardian Ladies, for details of The Victoria League and South African
Colonisation Society.
260
Lancaster, A Short History of the Mothers' Union, 115.
261
Moyse, History, 82.
262
Swaisland, Servants and Gentlewomen, 27.
263
Lady Laura Ridding, South African Note Book,Selborne Papers: HRO 9M68/61, December
1908. See Appendix 1 for further details of Laura Ridding’s activism and South African
connections.
264
Ridding, ‘The Call of Empire’.
265
A. N. Porter, The Nineteenth Century: The Oxford History of the British Empire (Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 1999). See for select examples Imperial India, 422-446; Southern
Africa , 597-623; Australia and the Western Pacific, 546-572; Chapter 25 Southern Islands:
New Zealand and Polynesia details conflict, resistance and dispossession despite
colonization and colonialism ‘being less brutal than some’, 573.
266
Ridding, ‘The Call of Empire’.
187
whites to mix with them.267 Her notion of what constituted ‘freedom for the
native races’ did not mean a rejection of notions of racial, cultural and social
hierarchy. Her vision was of humane improving trusteeship and did not challenge
the higher status conferred by whiteness.268 Laura Ridding also thought that the
‘Call of the Empire’ was ‘to fulfil our special duty as women, to be guardians of the
moral standard of the Empire’.269
The development of an imperial identity for the MU was associated with the
overseas and imperial aspirations of the Anglican Church. MU and Anglican
manoeuvres in the field of empire sought to expand their organisations and
shared common religious aims. Mary Sumner canvassed the support of overseas
bishops just as she had with bishops ‘at home’.270 The 1897 Lambeth Conference,
which gathered colonial and overseas bishops and their wives (several were MU
Diocesan Presidents), was used by the MU as an occasion to advertise its presence
overseas to an audience of clerics, as well as to the MU membership.271
The Pan-Anglican Conference of 1908 provided the MU with the opportunity for a
conspicuous demonstration of their allegiance to, and presence alongside, the
Church overseas. The Conference had been instigated by the pro-imperial
secretary of the SPG, Henry Montgomery, whose vision was of a worldwide
imperial Anglican Church, inclusive of other ‘races’ but led by ‘racially superior’
Anglo- Saxons. He saw missionary work as a source of inspiration for this and a
potentially unifying initiative in Anglicanism.272 He had formerly been the Bishop
of Tasmania (1889 and 1910), where his wife Maud had served as MU Diocesan
267
Ridding, ‘South African Note Book’, 33; Bush, Edwardian Ladies, 113-114. Bush locates
Ridding's view and anecdotes relating to fear of black men recorded in the note book in
relation to a context of 'Black Peril scares' between 1893 and 1913.
268
Andrew Ross, ‘Christian Missions and the Mid-Nineteenth Century Change in Attitudes
to Race: The African Experience’, in The Imperial Horizons of British Protestant Missions,
ed. Andrew Porter (Grand Rapids MIchigan and Cambridge: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2003), 92.
Ross notes trusteeship as the acceptance of responsibilty for perceived 'lower races' who
should be treated humanely as expressed in Kipling's poem 'The White Man's Burden.
269
Ridding, ‘The Call of Empire’; Ridding's view of trusteeship on behalf of 'natives'
replicates her attitude to those of lower social class. See ‘Home Duties’.
270
Sumner, ‘Letter to Lady Horatia Erskine ‘.
271
Mrs Malden, ‘Wanted: Some Educated Mothers’, MIC, July 1897, 194-209.
272
Maughan, ‘Imperial Christianity? Bishop Montgomery and the Foreign Missions of the
Church of England, 1895-1915’.
188
President.273 Mary Sumner and Lady Chichester joined Maud Montgomery on the
Women's General Committee of the conference. Louise Creighton, also a MU
offical, was in the chair.274 In the autumn following the conference, the MU
organised a mass meeting at the Albert Hall to which many wives of overseas
delegates had been invited. Mary Sumner gave an address:
They had now nearly covered the Empire with their number of over a
quarter-of-a-million members and associates and 6000 branches [...]
besides that she was glad to say their objects and their rules had been
translated into twelve different languages and they were winning a way in
other countries.275
The inclusion of Mrs Oluwole, the ‘wife of the African Bishop of Lagos’, as a
platform speaker was recorded as significant.276 Her speech noted:
... the deep appreciation felt by her fellow country women in Western
Equatorial Africa for the Mothers’ Union and of the help it brought to
Christian mothers of every race and colour uniting them in an unbreakable
bond of fellowship and prayer.277
It may also have been gratifying to the audience to hear the Bishop of the West
Indies, speaking at a MU reception at Church House, say that: ‘Nothing could be of
greater use to his country and the colonies than the Mothers’ Union’.278
The activity of missionaries was used to inspire, affirm identity and enhance
authority in the metropole. Cooperation with Anglican Missionary Societies and
the financial support of the pedagogic action of women missionary workers
strengthened the identification of the MU (and its members) with the Church.
Both the Church and the MU drew on imperial popularity and interest
engendered in mission work to raise enthusiasm for their aims ‘at home’ and
overseas. In locating itself as an imperial organisation, the MU was acting in
accord with its patriotic identification with royalty and nation, an association with
state power. Mary Sumner’s attitudes to indigenous members of the MU, which
273
See appendix 2
MU members were strongly represented on the Women's General Committee of the
Congress. Louise Creighton was in the chair, other members included Mary Sumner, Lady
Chichester and two other MU Associates. Moyse, History of the Mothers' Union, 85.
275
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 113 .
276
MIC, October 1908, 74.
277
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 114-115.
278
MIC, October 1908, 93.
274
189
resonate in the views expressed in MU publications and by other MU activists,
were maternalistic. Indigenous members were welcomed into the MU on the
understanding that they misrecognised the imposition of the MU’s gendered
religious doxa as legitimate. In this and in the repeated use of colour and
immaturity as signifiers of difference, Mary Sumner and others associated with
the MU appear complicit with the assumption of whiteness as superior and
associated with the possession of preferred cultural capital, in a hierarchical
ordering of cultural attributes. The demonstration of and propagation of,
perceived higher religious and cultural standards were asserted by the MU as a
standard for ‘Englishmen’ and women to live up to and as legitimising imperial
rule.
Conclusion: thinking with Bourdieu
Mary Summer dispositions of habitus towards ‘women’s mission’,
missionary philanthropy and missionary activity
The previous chapter identified religion as a significant factor contributing to Mary
Sumner’s acquisition of habitus and informative of notions of desirable capital.
Members of her kinship network upheld the prevailing (religious) doxa of the
dominant social group in their allegiance to Anglicanism. Mary Sumner’s wider
social network was also Anglican and predominately clerical. The evangelical
enthusiasm of the Sumners (which is also evident in the Heywood family)
attached high symbolic capital value to the public witness of faith and action
towards securing religious awakening or conversion of others. This religiously
motivated intervention, which in Mary Sumner’s kinship network was
predominantly realised through philanthropic initiatives, designated here as
missionary philanthropy, can be interpreted in Bourdieu’s terms as pedagogic
action.
Missionary philanthropy, as practised in Mary Sumner’s kinship and wider social
network, sought to impose the doxa of Anglicanism, the preferred doctrine within
the cultural arbitrary imposed by the dominant group. It was pedagogic action, an
instrument of symbolic violence, as it aimed to encourage conformity to approved
190
doxic standards and remediate the views and conduct of those perceived as
deficient. Initially exercised in local space, towards household tenants and at
parish level, this pedagogic action (located in a wider context of pedagogic work
institutionally via the Church) extended spatially and organisationally to the
support of, or participation in, missionary philanthropy. Deficiency concerned
failure to conform to the cultural arbitrary of the dominant group, the group to
which Mary Sumner and her kin claimed allegiance. Some deficiencies of capital
were perceived of as particularly threatening to the cultural arbitrary upheld by
Mary Sumner and her kin and were a stimulus for remediating pedagogic action.
The missionary philanthropy of Mary Sumner’s kinship and wider network aimed
to remediate these infractions and thus were defensive of the doxa of the
dominant cultural arbitrary, which they misrecognised as legitimate. Symbolic
religious and social capital could be accrued from missionary philanthropy by men
and women. Gendered notions of desirable womanly capital, informed by
religious and social doxa allowed women sufficient capital to extend their
‘women’s mission’ beyond the home to exercise pedagogic authority via
missionary philanthropy.
Mary Sumner’s responses to other Christian denominations and non-Christian
religions encountered in ‘the contact zone’ demonstrate her complicity (in
common with agents of similar habitus) with the doxic values of Anglicanism. She
misrecognised the social, political and cultural attributes of ‘Englishness’, which
the Anglican religious doxa informed, as superior. Possession of capital thus
defined was assumed to give agents the pedagogic authority to assert the
superiority of this capital over others perceived as deficient. This legitimised the
symbolic violence perpetrated by the pedagogic work of missionaries. It also
legitimised colonial rule, as long as the Anglican doxa was upheld. For Mary
Sumner and those of similar habitus, complicit with the Anglican religious doxa,
missionaries, perceived as pious, self-sacrificing and brave, were invested with
high religious capital.
191
Mary Sumner capital and field manoeuvres
The symbolic capital Mary Sumner possessed by virtue of her social class and
successful performance of her ‘woman’s mission’ as mother and helpmeet to the
Rector,279 allowed her to exercise pedagogic authority in parochial work. As a
traveller in and published author on places associated with scripture, she was
invested (amongst those of similar habitus) with symbolic religious and cultural
capital. This enhanced her pedagogic authority by giving her an entitlement to
speak from experience on the ‘East’. She had sufficient capital to authorise her
participation in organised missionary philanthropy in the CETS, although in the
gendered area of the juvenile section. It is indicative of her capital assets that
Mary Sumner was approached to be a ‘Founding Associate’ of the GFS. Her
achievement of presidential office at diocesan level in the GFS (in the inaugural
diocese of Winchester at a time when her husband was Archdeacon) was a
measure of, and a source of, increasing capital. It was constitutive of a level of
pedagogic authority upon which Mary Sumner drew to establish the MU and so
claim the promotion of motherhood as a distinct category in the fields of
philanthropy and the Anglican Church. Whilst cooperating with agents or groups
that she felt might advance the position of the MU, she asserted its superiority
over other organisations that might compromise its pre-eminent position.
Mary Sumner evoked religious missionary endeavour to dignify the role of
mothers fulfilling their domestic ‘women’s mission’ by associating it with the
sacred, thus consecrating, the symbolic capital of motherhood. This served to
assert the value of maternal capital in public and to members. By associating
mothers with the work of missionaries, the MU offered for the white mother, the
symbolic capital of identification with a cultural and ‘civilizing’ moral elite which
evoked connotations of valorous endeavour and participation in work for God. For
the non-white mother, the symbolic violence of conformity to the values of the
dominant imperial/colonial power which prioritised Christian religion, ‘western
culture’ and implicitly ‘whiteness’ as associated with ‘civilization’, education,
socio-political maturity and equitable gender relations, was euphemised by
fellowship and the inclusion in a moral elite with the promise of eternal salvation.
279
A clerical husband with relatives of distinction in the field of the Anglican Church was a
source of symbolic capital.
192
The direct sponsorship of women missionary workers by the MU and the GFS
(sometimes in collaboration) in conjunction with Anglican missionary
organisations was a direct intervention in the missionary field. Association with
this proactive Church work was of benefit to the mission societies, the Anglican
Church and to the MU and the GFS. It also affirmed the presence of the MU and
the GFS in the field of the Anglican Church overseas by emphasising the presence
of women as workers for God. It accrued capital for ‘women workers’ in colonial
missions and served to affirm the worth of women workers in the CMS and SPG. It
claimed capital for women engaged in missionary philanthropy and those working
for Christian life in the home.
The Anglican Church also sought to consolidate its position in the religious field
both ‘at home’ and further afield. Empire and contact zones were sites where
preferred capital was contested and accumulated. As in the MU and GFS,
missionary activity served the dual purpose of seeking to impose religious doxa in
empire and contact zones but also of promoting allegiance to it ‘at home’. In
addition to drawing on missionary contact zones, Mary Sumner saw in settler
colonies, an opportunity to extend the field position of the MU by securing wider
membership and asserting its presence within and contribution to the Anglican
Church overseas.
Mary Sumner, the Mothers Union, the Girls’ Friendly Society, the
Church and the imperial field of power
The previous chapter associated the notion of the field of power with the state
and the ruler as symbolic of the nation. In this chapter the notion of the field of
power is extended to reflect the overseas expansion of British domination
encapsulated in the term empire. Empire was predicated on the perpetuation of
the cultural arbitrary of British rule, which connects with assumptions of value,
capital and legitimacy. It existed as an idea as well as an entity.
The economic, political and military circumstances conducive to British colonial
expansion could be both rationalised and legitimised by asserting domination as a
193
‘civilising’ mission and claiming the superiority of the symbolic gifts, the
‘civilization’ and salvation it had to bestow on those complicit with its domination.
Thus empire became associated, for those habituated to misrecognition of the
cultural arbitrary imposed by British rule as legitimate, with positive notions of
improvement and redemption. Mary Sumner and others in the MU and GFS, in
common with authoritative agents within the Anglican Church, saw the upholding
and propagation of religious standards as the legitimising rationale for imperial
rule.280 Moves within the Established Anglican Church to position itself as an
imperial church were also an assertion of position within the wider field of religion
and an extension of the identification with state at power ‘at home’.
Women’s organisations, including the MU and the GFS, led by women with high
social capital, played a significant part in the reproduction of the values of the
dominant imperial power.281 The legitimising of the imperial project was highly
gendered. The chastity, moral sensibility and motherliness attributed to the
Christian woman were asserted as exemplifying the superiority and benignity of
English imperial rule. Christian English women were offered as examples of
desirable capital to their ‘sisters’ in colonies and contact zones. This emphasis on
motherliness and nurture served to euphemise the symbolic and actual violence
perpetrated by imperial rule. The attribution of qualities such as fair play and
chivalry to Christian (‘English’) manhood was similarly euphemising of domination.
Mary Sumner was confident that the doxa of the cultural arbitrary, to which she
claimed allegiance and upheld, was valid transnationally and its capital superior, a
superiority that was thought not only to justify attempts to impose it in extending
spaces, countries and overseas, but made it a duty to do so. Assumptions of
superiority based on ‘race’ were masked by attribution to perceived deficit in
cultural and religious capital. Mary Sumner was complicit with the perpetration of
symbolic violence towards indigenous people and non-Christian believers. The
imperial doxa assumed a hierarchy of ‘race’ and culture, just as the women of
Mary Summer’s habitus misrecognised class stratification as legitimate. Mary
Sumner drew on the association with empire to enlarge the symbolic capital
offered by the MU to its members. By associating themselves with the category of
280
Bebbington, ‘Atonement’.
See Bush, Edwardian Ladies, for other women's imperial organisations.
281
194
Christian womanhood, in which ‘white’ and ‘English’ were preferred qualities, MU
members in the metropole were encouraged to feel a sense of participation in the
empire as exemplars of benign rule.
Despite assertion of the universality of motherhood and the worth of maternal
capital, the MU was only inclusive of women of ‘lesser’ non-white ‘race’ if they
were apparently complicit with the values of the white English Christian ‘civilized’
dominant cultural arbitrary. The MU was an instrument of domination as its
pedagogic work and the pedagogic action of its agents, notably Mary Sumner,
enacted symbolic violence by seeking to reproduce the dominant arbitrary by
securing the mis/recognition of its legitimacy.
Work associated with empire could be, for women of Mary Sumner’s network and
similar habitus, a means of enhancing symbolic capital and exercising pedagogic
authority. Association with the agencies of imperialism served as an opportunity
for women leaders to accrue capital as experts in a field. This was notably the case
in the GFS which was consulted by imperial government on matters relating to
emigration and employment.
The MU’s enhancement of women’s capital through association with empire is
less tangible but it did gain position in the imperial field by securing a presence all
over and beyond the empire, thus making women visible. This served to identify
mothers as citizens and contributors to the imperial project. The MU and the GFS
gave specific opportunities for mission workers and contributed towards the
normalisation of women as missionaries in their own right, rather than as
missionary wives or associate workers. Through her association with the work of
missionaries, the Church overseas, colonial settlement and the empire as an ideal,
as illustrated in Figure 5 Mary Sumner and the Mothers’ Union expansion in
overseas fields Mary Sumner secured her authority and the prominent position of
her organisation, within the fields of philanthropy and the Anglican Church. She
could also claim to have placed her organisation in the field of religion worldwide,
where by virtue of mass membership, it could claim a high field position. In
achieving recognition as the personification of the organisation that she founded
195
by hundreds of thousands of women worldwide, Mary Sumner could claim
considerable capital.
Figure 5: Mary Sumner and the Mothers’ Union Expansion in Fields
Overseas
196
197
Chapter 5 - Mary Sumner and Education
Introduction
Mary Sumner’s life (1828-1921) and the inception and growth of the MU (from
1876) occurred at a time when educational provision expanded and reformed in
ways that were contested. It was also a period in which the understanding of
childhood was subject to change.1 Mary Sumner’s activism, via the MU, relates to
key themes in education, the contest for power in the educational field between
the Established Anglican Church, other denominations and the state and the
development of mass elementary education. Her advocacy for the home as a site
of religious education and the mother as a religious educator also occurred in the
context of expansion in the provision of schooling for middle and upper-class girls
and the articulation of aspirations for higher education amongst women. This
involved the negotiation of gendered identities and roles and the negotiation of
contingent curricula deemed to be appropriate.2 The expansion of professional
and voluntary roles for women within the sphere of education, whether as
mistresses in middle-class schools, elementary teachers or as philanthropic
‘workers’ and members of school boards,3 was related to women’s increasing
pedagogic authority and thus bound up in the negotiation of the purpose and
practice of women’s education.4 These issues can be located against a context of
increasing literacy and mass print communication, in which media were used to
assert contested orthodoxies of religious and secular doxa.5
This chapter analyses Mary Sumner’s negotiation of constraint and agency and
her position vis-à-vis the reproduction and transaction of power in relation to
education. The chapter will begin with a focus on habitus. Mary Sumner will be
1
Wardle, English Popular Education, 97-98; John Lawson and Harold Silver, A Social History
of Education in England, (London: Methuen, 1978), 353-357.
2
Sara Delamont, ‘The Contradictions in Ladies' Education’, in The Nineteenth-Century
Woman:Her Cultural and Physical World, ed. Sara Delamont and Lorna Duffin (London:
Croom Helm, 1978).
3
Patricia Hollis, Ladies Elect: Women in English Local Government, 1865-1914 (Oxford:
Clarendon, 1987).
4
Burstyn, Victorian Education; Dyhouse, Girls Growing Up; Gorham, The Victorian Girl.
5
Lawson and Silver, A Social History of Education, 278, 279; Delamont, ‘The Nineteenth
Century Woman'.
199
located in relation to her experiences amongst her kinship network in her
childhood and earlier married life. The chapter will then move outwards to
consider her wider network. Attention will be given to attitudes to childhood,
women’s education, women as educators and notions of capital as defined in the
contested field of religious education within which members of her kinship and
social network manoeuvred. The contextual circumstances that framed these
manoeuvres are noted as they are considered formative of Mary Sumner’s
educational habitus, horizons of possibility and notions of capital in relation to
education mediated by religious preferences.
The chapter will then analyse Mary Sumner’s field manoeuvres in relation to
education. It will note Mary Sumner’s views on childhood, mothers as home
educators, mothering and class and her emphasis on religious education as the
rationale for the MU. Notions of educational capital and transactions of capital
towards pedagogic authority will be analysed. Mary Sumner’s use of the
organisation to educate mothers and the wider populace by informal means and
her deployment of educational strategies to promote recognition of the MU will
be examined. Attention will be paid to the dissemination of religious knowledge
through printed materials. The views of Mary Sumner on reading as an
educational tool will be examined. Networking with other organisations in relation
to the field of education will be considered.
The chapter will then relate Mary Sumner’s activism through the MU to the wider
field of power. Mary Sumner’s stance on secular schooling will be examined and
her position and manoeuvres through the MU related to the contest in the field of
education between Church and state. Her position as a popular educator will be
analysed in relation to the reproduction of, or negotiation of, the dominant
(religious social) doxa in respect of education, with attention being given to
horizons of possibility for women. The chapter will conclude with sections
summarising dispositions of habitus and horizons of possibility, capital and field
manoeuvres and fields and fields of power, reflective of the three levels of
analysis.
200
Mary Sumner: educational habitus
Mary Sumner’s experience of childhood, educational capital,
attitudes to women and education, educational activism in her
kinship network
Mary Sumner’s, ‘Account of Early Life at Hope End’ , reveals her notions of
desirable educational and cultural capital by enumerating the assets possessed by
her family, as exemplary parents, possessors of elite cultural knowledge and
educational philanthropists.6 The ‘Account of Early Life’ also provides evidence
that Mary Summer experienced what, in the context of the time (pre 1850), may
be considered a conventional but privileged and relatively extensive home
education.7 Both her parents took an interest in her education. As former
Unitarians they would have experienced a tradition which acknowledged
women’s intellect and valued their education, despite envisaging women’s roles
within family life.8 It was also a tradition that acknowledged women as
educators.9 As noted in Chapter 3, Mary’s retrospective account of her early life,
written in the context of a proposed memoir of her life when the MU had been
long established,10 emphasised the attention given to the religious education of
her children by Mrs Heywood. It underscored the key aim of the MU to encourage
mothers in the religious education of their children and is interpreted as a field
manoeuvre intended to validate Mary Sumner’s pedagogic authority.
Mary Sumner advertised the educational and cultural credentials of her father,
who, as noted in the biographical outline, was recognised as an art collector,
antiquarian, a German linguist and, as she noted, ‘a remarkable historian’.11
Thomas Heywood shared his enthusiasm for history with his daughter. Daily
lessons, including readings from Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire,
6
Sumner, ‘Early Life’.
Burstyn, Victorian Education; Gorham, The Victorian Girl.
8
Watts, Gender, Power and the Unitarians in England, 1760-1860, 115-118, 165.
9
Ibid.
10
The memoir was proposed by Louisa Gore Browne, Mary Sumner’s daughter.
11
Sumner, ‘Early Life'; Mary Sumner noted encounters with Thackeray, Carlyle, Ruskin,
Charles Kingsley, Landseer and Sir Frederick Leighton; Memoir of George Sumner, 24.
7
201
were held in his library when Mary’s brother, Tom, was home from Eton.12
Thomas Heywood also encouraged the education of his family through travel
abroad, which included the fashionable winter destination of Rome, given cultural
distinction by its classical associations. In visits to Germany and France, Mary
noted that ‘French and German were spoken all the time’ by the family,13
circumstances likely to have contributed to her proficiency in languages. Mary
considered it relevant to note that she was taught literature by her governess,
Miss Parker and recorded being tutored in more conventional ladylike
accomplishments by ‘Masters’ of various kinds in London, including Herr Kroff
who taught singing. Mary was also trained in operatic singing whilst in Italy. In
later life, she was recognised for her proficiency as a musician.14 She drew on Herr
Kroff’s lessons when teaching others. She noted that: ‘I taught his system to Loulie
[daughter Louisa] who has a lovely voice’.15
Participation in educational philanthropy is identified in Mary Sumner’s
manuscript as indicative of merit. In addition to daily Bible study for her own
children, Mrs Heywood also taught village children at Sunday school, a project to
which her own children (son and daughters) were expected to contribute.16 Mary
also recorded the educational philanthropy of other members of her family, much
of which was for the improvement of the working class; such as the village school
built by Mary’s father, or the larger scale support of Mechanics’ Institutes, which
aimed to promote science, undertaken by her uncle, Benjamin Heywood.17 These
initiatives may be interpreted as reflecting the Unitarian belief in education as a
means towards individual ‘betterment ‘and progress through education to public
welfare, but the aspiration for improvement did not mean detachment from class
perspectives.18 The educational philanthropy of the members of the Heywood
family that Mary identifies was exercised after, as well as before, conversion to
12
‘Early Life’. This was a departure from family tradition. Thomas Heywood was educated
at Manchester Grammar School and did not take a university degree. His brother James,
who remained a Unitarian, attended Cambridge but as a Nonconformist was barred from
taking his degree in England. Benjamin Heywood secured university education in Glasgow.
13
Ibid.
14
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 16-17.
15
Sumner, ‘Early Life’.
16
Ibid.
17
Kidd and Roberts, City, Class and Culture: Studies of Social Policy and Cultural Production
in Victorian Manchester; McConnell, ‘Heywood, Sir Benjamin, First Baronet (1793–1865)’.
18
Watts, Gender, Power and the Unitarians in England, 1760-1860, 183.
202
Anglicanism.19 Thomas Percival Heywood’s funding of Denstone School, as part of
Canon Woodard’s initiative to build Anglican schools for the middle classes,20
illustrates the prioritisation of denominational religious truth as a form of
knowledge and also class stratification as a mediator of schooling and curricula.21
The Sumners, whose family tree included headmasters of Eton and Harrow,22 like
the Heywoods, celebrated their educational and cultural capital. They also saw
education, mediated according to class and with religion as an essential
component, as a means for the betterment of individuals and society.23 The value
of education for women, within the ‘womanly sphere’, was acknowledged and
women’s contribution as religious educators, by example, recognised.24 The men
of the family were educated in elite institutions. As an Etonian, George Sumner
followed his father and uncle but differed from them in having his university
education at Balliol, Oxford, rather than at Cambridge.25 Heywood Sumner also
went to Eton and Balliol but the daughters of the family were educated at home.26
George Sumner’s biography of his father, Charles, identifies him as a man of
culture, ‘well read in English and foreign literature’ and an enthusiast for botany
and horticulture.27 Charles Sumner’s promotion of public education was also
noted. In his Hampshire parish (1816-20) he established a village school,
researched educational practice and in countering opposition to education for the
19
She makes no reference to her uncle James Heywood who did not convert.
Heywood and Heywood, Reminiscences, 32-33; Brian Heeney, Mission to the Middle
Classes: The Woodard Schools 1848-1891 (London: S.P.C.K, 1969). These secondary
boarding schools largely for boys were intended to promote allegiance to the Anglican
Church. Woodard was a Tractarian sympathiser.
21
The 1868 Schools Inquiry (Taunton) Commission into middle-class schooling envisaged a
three tier system for lower, middle and upper middle-class pupils. It noted limited
provision of schools for girls who were not initially envisaged as within the scope of the
enquiry. It followed the 1864 Public Schools (Clarendon) Commission; Delamont, ‘The
Domestic Ideology and Women’s Education', 172; Murphy, Church, State and Schools, 46.
22
Sumner, ‘Memorials’.
23
Sumner, Life of C. R. Sumner, 34.
24
Ibid., 25-25, 37.
25
Sumner, Memoir of George Sumner; Sumner, Life of C. R. Sumner; Scotland, John Bird
Sumner.
26
Anon. Old Alresford Parish Census 1861, Old Alresford, Hampshire County Record Office:
M285. Amongst seven resident servants Mary and George Sumner employed a nursemaid,
Eliza Simpson and a French governess, Valle Laiore.
27
Sumner, Life of C. R. Sumner, 30, 33.
20
203
poor, may be seen to favour the evangelical emphasis on both education in
religion for individual salvation and for training in respectable social conduct.28
Charles Sumner also wished for an educated helpmeet. In a letter to his bride to
be, he requested not to be troubled with the details of domestic management
and added: ‘Nor can I conceive of anything greater than the disappointment of a
man who admires a woman for her mental resources of cultivation of mind, but
finds on marriage she degenerates into a mere intendente de maison’.29 Mrs
Jennie Sumner’s moral influence on students tutored by her husband was
considered worthy of comment in the memoir of his life.30 Evidence of Charles
Sumner’s favourable attitude to educated women is given by his daughter
Louisanna, who in later life published on religious themes. Louisanna’s ability to
give her younger brother George (prior to his entry to Eton in 1836) lessons in
Latin and Greek, subjects not usually a standard part of the female curriculum,
indicates that her education was more intellectually challenging than that
experienced by most home or school educated middle and upper-class women at
the time.31
In Mary Sumner’s kinship and social network the appreciation of literature, art,
music, history, languages and the classics, were celebrated as cultural capital. For
women of higher social status, individual educational capital (and a degree of
intellectual capital) was recognised if acquired and invested in ways legitimised by
religiously and socially mediated notions of appropriate gendered behaviour. The
provision of educational opportunities, or facilities for others less socially
advantaged was asserted as a source of symbolic capital for the benefactors.
28
Ibid., 34. There was resistance to the education for the poor on the grounds that it might
promote questioning of the established social order. Hannah More's teaching of reading
was criticised from this perspective, although she was no radical: Lawson and Silver, A
Social History of Education, 231, 235; Bradley, The Call to Seriousness.
29
Sumner, Life of C. R. Sumner, 25-26.
30
Ibid., 37.
31
Sumner, Memoir of George Sumner, 44. Louisanna Gibson (1817-1899) married 1837
widowed 1862, was the author of Simple Sketches of England and her Churchmen in the
Middle Ages and First Teachings about the English Church; Gorham, The Victorian Girl, 23,
24; Purvis, A History of Women's Education in England, 65-68.
204
Educational context, parochial work and educational initiatives
affirmative and informative of Mary Sumner’s educational habitus
and horizons of possibility
Mary Sumner’s activism began in the ‘Board School era’ (1870-1902) when
Anglican pre-eminence in the field of elementary education was subject to
challenge by the emergence of state sponsored, non-denominational schools,
administered by locally elected Boards.32 Yet agents, with authority in the Church,
in Mary Sumner’s kinship network had been participants in pedagogic action and
field manoeuvres to support Anglican ascendancy, in a contest for control of
educational provision which had been ongoing from early in the century. This
contest in the field of education provides the contextual background to Mary
Sumner’s habitus and her later trajectory of activism through the diocesan MU.
The Anglican position on education may be seen within the wider context of
attempts to maintain its spiritual authority and position in the wider field of
power in the face of challenge from other Christian denominations.33 The
instigation of the British and Foreign Schools Society in 1808 by the Quaker,
Joseph Lancaster, which sought to promote a non-denominational curriculum,
challenged the assumption that the Anglican Church should have a monopoly of
educational provision.34 ‘The issue at stake was whether or not the Established
Church was going to retain its former control over the education of the people’.35
The explicitly titled National Society for Promoting the Education of the Poor in
the Principles of the Church of England, was the Anglican response to the threat
presented by the Nonconformist British and Foreign Schools Society. Its goal was
to build on existing provision to establish a school in every parish staffed by
32
Wardle, English Popular Education.
Chadwick, The Victorian Church Part 2, 1860-1901. See previous chapter on religion.
34
Murphy, Church, State and Schools, 4-6. There was a political dimension to the Society
for it drew support from Whigs, Radicals and Socialists seeking to change the social order.
Religious hostility and political opposition were frequently aligned. Anglicanism was
traditionally aligned with the Tory landowning class representative of the ‘establishment’.
The Anglican Church also sought to educate the poor in its doxa through Sunday schools
which served as an outlet for the philanthropic pedagogic action of socially advantaged
women such as Mary Sumner and Charlotte Yonge. Mumm, ‘Women and Philanthropic
Cultures’; Sumner, ‘Early Life’; Yonge, ‘ A Real Childhood’, 15-19.
35
Hurt, Education in Evolution, 16.
33
205
communicant Anglican teachers.36 The committee of what was known as the
‘National Society’ was composed of bishops and archbishops of England and
Wales. It was: ‘in effect the education committee of the Anglican Church’.37
Through this manoeuvre the Anglican Church was relatively successful in
maintaining its position as a key provider of working-class elementary education
outside cities, until the further challenge represented by the 1870 legislation.
However state intervention in educational provision continued to be negotiated
between interested parties, both religious and political. 38
Anglicanism was also influential in the education of upper-class boys through its
association with elite public schools, which had undergone a religious revival in
the mid-nineteenth century.39 Anglican clergy formed the majority of
headmasters and headmasters often became bishops, a trend illustrated by Mary
Sumner’s ‘warm friend’, George Ridding, of Winchester College, subsequently
Bishop of Southwell.40 Mary Sumner’s anecdote, deployed to illustrate Christian
manliness, in which a public school boy is initially ‘reviled, mocked, [and]
threatened’ by his fellows for saying his prayers but eventually by his example
‘changed the practice of a whole school’, provides an illustration of the topicality
of religious revival in public schools.41
The 1870 Education Act, which initiated the systematic involvement of
government in the provision of mass elementary working-class education,
codified the state challenge to Anglican dominance in the field of education. The
identification by W.E Forster, the architect of the act, of legislation as a means to
reinforce the social order suggests a manoeuvre in the field of power designed to
reproduce the status quo.42 Yet, the act also gave women the right to serve on
36
Ibid., 11-38. Chapter 1 'Schism and Cohesion', for the National Society's negotiation with
the state and competition with the British and Foreign Schools; Not all Anglican Schools
were National Society schools. Murphy, Church, State and Schools, Chapter 1.
37
Hurt, Education in Evolution, 17. See also 39-45.
38
Murphy, Church, State and Schools, Chapters 2 and 3 explain the complexities of these
negotiations and legislation.
39
Wardle, English Popular Education, 117-124; Sumner, ‘To Fathers’. Thomas Arnold of
Rugby School and Edward Thring of Uppingham are noted names in this revival.
40
‘Letters to Lady Chichester’, 24 April 191?.
41
‘To Fathers’, 136.
42
Hurt, Education in Evolution, 223-224.
206
elected school boards, thereby opening up an opportunity for women’s access to
power in the fields of education and local government.43
George Sumner’s biography of his father and his own writings indicate that the
Anglican Church had been anticipating state intervention for some time and had
acted with this perceived threat to Church influence in mind. Charles Sumner’s
1839 initiation of the Winchester Diocesan Training College for teachers may be
seen as a manoeuvre to promote Anglican presence in the field of education.44
George Sumner was also involved in the College, serving on its management
committee from 1860, as treasurer from 1862 and as secretary between 1870 and
1878. In an address to schoolmasters and mistresses delivered in 1862, George
Sumner claimed, ‘we are now passing through a crisis in the education in this
country’.45 The crisis he perceived was the secularisation of education and he
asked:
What is the true object of education? In other words, what is the ultimate
end of the schoolmaster or school mistress? Now at least, I would observe
that, by the schoolmaster I mean the educator, not the mere instructor.
What a vast difference there is between them! You may take a young Hindu
and teach him reading, writing and arithmetic, together with all the
“ologies” ... [sic] but if you stop here, I maintain that you have not
educated, but only instructed him. You have withheld from him that which
is his inalienable right and which was in your power to have bestowed on
him. You have withheld from him the knowledge of the Truth. 46
His conclusion was that secular education was: ‘a contradiction in words and
impossibility for the conscientious teacher’.47 Secularisation of religion was also
addressed in the 1868 essay collection, Principles at Stake, which George edited.
The Rev. Alexander Grant, a former H.M. Inspector of Schools, contributed the
chapter ‘National Education’. Grant’s views accord with the sentiments in
43
Jane Martin, Women and the Politics of Schooling in Victorian and Edwardian England
(London: Leicester University Press, 1998); Hollis, Ladies Elect.
44
Sumner, Life of C. R. Sumner, 261-263. Charles Sumner's biography suggests
secularisation of education through Government intervention was already a concern. The
Diocesan Training College evolved into King Alfred’s College and is now the University of
Winchester.
45
Sumner, Memoir of George Sumner, 34.
46
Ibid., 35.
47
Ibid., 36.
207
George’s speech to schoolmasters and mistresses.48 In the same chapter Grant
also commented on the party political dimension of the issue: ‘The Liberal Party is
making a general crusade against Denominationalism. The crusade is against all
religious instruction. Its object is to wrest the office of teaching out of the hands
of the Clergy’.49 George Sumner, speaking at the Diocesan Training College prize
giving in 1879, also touched on the antipathy of the Church to the influence of
Board Schools:
It is possible that many of you will be compelled to take work in Board
Schools; but, even if your mouths be closed to the utterance of the
distinctive Christian doctrine of our Church, yet a firm believer, who has a
pure mind and sincere character, will always have great influence.50
George and Mary Sumner’s support for the cultural arbitrary that prioritised
Christian doxa was demonstrated in their commitment to religious education as a
means of improving individual lives and public conduct. They followed family
practice in considering that education and religion were bound together. As noted
in the previous chapter, the philanthropy promoted by George and Mary Sumner
during their years of parochial ministry was religious in intent and realised
through largely informal educational initiatives.51 They supported the Christian
book hawking scheme and the funding of a village library in 1878: pedagogic
action that promoted Christian values by providing ‘wholesome’, if not exclusively
religious, reading.52 The men’s Bible study group led by Mary Sumner was also
pedagogic action intended to foster Christian standards of conduct. Her mothers’
meeting similarly intended to educate its members in Anglican doctrine and as
exemplars of Christian behaviour.53 As noted in previous chapters, the recognition
of Mary Sumner’s gendered social and religious capital enabled her to assume
pedagogic authority in an extending sphere through the GFS, initially in a parish
branch (1875) and later in authoritative positions at diocesan level. It also secured
48
Rev. Alexander R. Grant, ‘National Education’, in Principles at Stake: Essays on Church
Questions of the Day, ed. George Sumner (London: 1868), 120.
49
Ibid., 118.
50
Sumner, Memoir of George Sumner, 32.
51
Mumm, ‘Women and Philanthropic Cultures'.
52
Sumner, Memoir of George Sumner, 16; Rev. George Carew, Census Book of Old
Alresford, Old Alresford: HRO 43M74PZ2. Carew's 1845 record noted a population of 578.
50% of women and 20% of men were communicants. A third of men and a quarter of
women could read.
53
Sumner, ‘Founding’.
208
her official status in the CETS. Holding these positions indicated recognition of,
and served to amplify, her pedagogic authority as a speaker ‘for the Church’. This
gave Mary Sumner a position from which she was able to launch the MU.
George and Mary Sumner also acted to support the Anglican Church in the field of
formal education. George Sumner extended his sphere of pedagogic action into
the village school where he gave religious instruction and he also:
...took a great interest in Sunday school work and was exceedingly careful
as to the manner in which the classes were arranged and the clear and
intelligent method of instruction given in Scripture and catechism. He had
every week a Sunday School Teachers’ meeting at the Rectory. 54
In a substantial act of philanthropy, George and Mary Sumner provided £2,000 to
fund the building of a new school, All Saints Church of England Primary, which was
opened in 1893 in Winchester.55 The Sumners were amongst a number of
influential (and socially distinguished) Anglican supporters of the ‘voluntary’
movement in the district.56 The building of voluntary schools (that is those funded
by voluntary subscription such as the Anglican National Schools) had been given
impetus by the ‘Forster’ Elementary Education act of 1870. It specified that Board
Schools were to be established where voluntary provision was insufficient for the
local population. The Cowper-Temple amendment (secured by Episcopal pressure)
preserved religious teaching in Board Schools, albeit of a non-denominational
character,57 but Anglicans considered this unsatisfactory and favoured specific
doctrinal teaching in the curriculum.58 Ensuring sufficient voluntary places was a
manoeuvre designed to prevent the election of the School Boards (a political
contest in which Anglican supporters might not prevail), which were charged with
the establishment of non-denominational Board Schools.59
54
Sumner, Memoir of George Sumner, 20, 21.
Ibid., 107.
56
Ibid., 101-102, 106. Supporters included the Earl of Northbrook (Lord Lieutenant of the
County); W.H Meyers M.P. for Winchester; Melville Portal Chairman of the County Quarter
Sessions; the Warden of Winchester College; the Master of St Cross (alms house). Also
present at the ceremony were ‘many other clergy and laymen of importance. Mrs Sumner
was one of the many ladies present’. The voluntary system relied on the collection of a
voluntary rate from subscribers. It was administered by a committee which represented
various denominations. George Sumner was chair of this committee in Winchester.
57
Murphy, Church, State and Schools, 58-60; Hurt, Education in Evolution.
58
Roman Catholics also favoured denominational schools.
59
Lawson and Silver, A Social History of Education.
55
209
Despite commitment to the Anglican cause, George Sumner was noted for the
‘harmonious collaboration’ he achieved as Chair amongst the Council of
‘Churchmen [Anglicans], Nonconformists and Roman Catholics’ that managed the
voluntary school rate in Winchester.60 In resisting the dilution of denominational
teaching represented by the threat of Board Schools, rival denominations found
common cause in supporting the denominational influence in the field of
elementary education. George Sumner commented that ‘one of the great
advantages of the struggle they had been carrying on in Winchester was that it
brought all religious parties together’.61
Mary Sumner noted the ‘Educational triumph’ reported by the Hampshire
Chronicle on the opening of the school. According to the Chronicle, Sir William
Hart-Dyke M.P’s opening speech noted: ‘In Winchester they had done their best
and were determined to have a secure hold over the education- the religious
education of their children. ’ George Sumner ‘responded that they were
determined that the voluntary system should prevail’.62 Mary Summer’s support
of formal denominational teaching through the MU will be addressed in a
following section.
Amongst Mary Sumner’s network, education for both men and women of the
lower classes was regarded as a means of individual and collective societal
betterment. Literacy was seen as enabling religious education. Yet, the dominant
social and Anglican interests to which Mary Sumner and agents in her habitus
claimed allegiance, considered that access to education and curricula required
their mediation to ensure the transmission of their preferred doxa. Whilst
intellectual and cultural knowledge was important, it was considered debased
without the moral framework and purpose given by religion which, amongst Mary
Sumner’s network, meant Anglicanism.
In the field of (elementary) educational provision, in which voluntarily funded
denominational schooling was in contest with non-denominational state
sponsored provision, George and Mary Sumner sought to ensure a curriculum that
60
Sumner, Memoir of George Sumner, 106.
Ibid., 104.
62
Ibid., 101-105.
61
210
included Anglican doctrinal teaching. They also acted to promote Anglicanism
through pedagogic action associated directly with the Church, via religious
services, classes or less overtly through the pedagogic work of philanthropic
initiatives. Mary Sumner was the beneficiary, by association, of George’s
pedagogic authority as a Churchman, circumstances that enabled and enhanced
opportunities for the acquisition of her own pedagogic authority. Educational
initiatives, whether formal or informal, were symbolically violent in that they
offered the benefits of literacy (and salvation) in exchange for outward
compliance with the Anglican religious (and social) doxa.
The habitus in which Mary Sumner was located and the action of its agents
(including Mary herself) were in accord with Anglican views on educational issues
that were to be codified in later years by the Lambeth Conference.63 The 1908
Lambeth resolutions on education summed up the educational agenda that had
been pursued for so many decades prior to that date by Mary and George
Sumner. Resolution 11 stated: ‘it is our duty as Christians to make it clear to the
world that purely secular systems of education are educationally as well as
morally unsound’. Resolution 12 added that: ‘no teaching can be regarded as
adequate religious teaching which limits itself to historical information and moral
culture’. It followed that, in the words of Resolution 13: ‘It is our duty as Christians
to be alert to use in all schools every opportunity which the state affords us for
training our children in the faith of their parents’. Resolution 19 in particular,
endorsed Mary Sumner’s MU work:
The Conference desires to lay special stress on the duty of parents in all
conditions of social life to take personal part in the religious instruction of
their own children and to show active interest in the religious instruction
which the children receive at school.64
63
Resolution 17 of the 1908 Lambeth Conference: ‘The religious training of teachers
should be regarded as a primary duty of the Church’. Charles and George Sumner may be
considered as pioneers.
64
Anglican Church of Canada Anglican Book Centre, Toronto, ‘Lambeth Conferences
Resolutions Archive’, By permission, the Secretary General of the Anglican Consultative
Council 2006, [http://www.lambethconference.org/resolutions/ accessed 12 July 2013].
211
‘Education begins at home’65
Mary Sumner’s notions of childhood and childrearing
In founding the MU, Mary Sumner drew on three premises which were
underpinned by the permeation of religion into education and the framing of
women’s roles, notions of approved conduct and horizons of possibility.66 The first
was that education in religion needed to be upheld because it was being eroded:
‘the need of religious teaching is daily becoming more pressing in these days of
secularism, colourless Board School teaching, irreligion and infidelity’.67 The
second premise was that education in religiously authorised standards of
behaviour was the means towards alleviating social problems such as
drunkenness, prostitution and poverty that were deemed to have an adverse
effect on the wellbeing of the nation.68 The third was that mothers were the most
effective agents for the education of young children into religious faith and moral
conduct. Mary Sumner maintained that: ‘People have tried for long years to do
the work of reformation by schools and institutions and agencies of all sorts [...]
but they cannot succeed until the parents and above all the mothers, are
awakened to their responsibilities’.69 She also claimed: ‘the character of every
child is being formed day by day from the moment of his birth - he sees his
mother first [...] he learns first from her.70
The assumption that motherhood was the natural province of women was in
accord with (Anglican) Christian teaching and was embedded in social practice.71
In asserting the need for the MU, Mary Sumner acted to increase the symbolic
capital accruing to motherhood by claiming that it required pedagogic expertise.
In associating motherhood with a divinely ordained role she also invested
children, as well as mothers, with symbolic value. In so doing, she may be
65
Home Life, 4.
Gorham, The Victorian Girl; Burstyn, Victorian Education; Spender, The Education Papers:
Women’s Quest for Equality in Britain, 1850-1912.
67
Mary Sumner, ‘When and Why the Mothers' Union Started’, (WInchester: Warren and
Sons, n.d. surmised 1888).
68
‘Temperance’; ‘Mothers' Work Outside’; Home Life, preface.
69
Home Life, 4.
70
‘Obedience’, 28.
71
Gill, Women and the Church of England; Yeo, Radical Femininity: Womens' Self
Representation in the Public Sphere.
66
212
considered to be in accord with changing notions of childhood that identified
childhood as a stage of development to be respected.72
Mary Sumner’s views reflected ideas of the Unitarian, Harriet Martineau (18021876),73 and the evangelical Anglican, Hannah More (1745-1833)74 in emphasising
the role of mothers as moral and religious educators.75 The view expressed in
Hannah More’s Strictures on Female Education was that it was desirable for
women to be educated in serious matters in order to be competent in the
educative role of motherhood.76 Mary Sumner believed that: ‘The Christian Faith
should be taught to children first by the Mother in early child life’.77 She set out
her view of the essential tenets of faith that children should know: ‘Every baptised
child should be taught the Creed, the Lord’s Prayer and the Ten Commandments
[...] and all other things a Christian ought to know and believe to his soul’s
health’.78
Mary Sumner also expressed views on standards of conduct that she felt
appropriate. Children should ‘be perfectly and consciously obedient at three years
old’.79 To achieve this was not easy: it required ‘faith, love, patience, method, selfcontrol and some knowledge of the principles of character training’.80 Mary
Sumner also noted that a mother needed: ‘some knowledge of the principles of
education’ and ‘methods for the management of learning’.81 Writing with an MU
audience in mind, she recalled the birth of her first child as an awe inspiring
charge for which she felt unprepared:
The child’s future depended on my own training and responsibility even
more than that of my dear husband because during the first months the
72
Wardle, English Popular Education, 81.
Harriet Martineau, Household Education (London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1870).
74
Charlotte Mary Yonge, Hannah More (London: W. H. Allen & Co., 1888), Mary Sumner's
fellow worker in the GFS and MU was a biographer of More.
75
Martineau, Household Education; More, Strictures on the Modern System of Female
Education: With a View of the Principles and Conduct Prevalent among Women of Rank
and Fortune.
76
Strictures on the Modern System of Female Education: With a View of the Principles and
Conduct Prevalent among Women of Rank and Fortune.
77
Sumner, ‘Letters to Mrs Maude’, 26 June 1917.
78
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 31.
79
Sumner, ‘Obedience ’, 28.
80
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 31.
81
‘When and Why the Mothers' Union Started’.
73
213
mother has special time and opportunity to mould the character of her
child. [...] I needed special teaching, motherhood is one of the most
important professions and yet there was no profession which has so poor a
training, one often entered upon without any sort of preparation hence the
failure in character of so many children as they grow up.82
If mothering was ‘a solemn responsibility’,83 and ‘the training of children is a
profession’,84 it followed that mothers needed to be ‘awakened’ to it and
equipped for the task.85 This was the aim of the MU. Mary Sumner’s supporter
Bishop Harold Browne reflected the Church’s emerging recognition of women’s
organised work for the Church. He recognised the educational potential of the MU
for pedagogic work on behalf of the Church and endorsed the pedagogic authority
of mothers:
It is of vital consequence to future generations that education should be
conducted on the highest principles of morality and religion. The women of
the nation are its earliest and most effective teachers and they specially
need to be taught.86
Mary Sumner prioritised the role of the mother as a home educator but she
recognised and encouraged the role of the father in parenting and the education
of the family in religious habits. Her writings exhorted wives to act to encourage
their participation in family life.87 She also demonstrated her willingness to
assume pedagogic authority over working men by specifically addressing articles
to them. In ‘To Husbands and Fathers’, published in the MUJ in 1905, Mary
Sumner wrote: ‘It will not do to say “I leave religion to the missus”. Husbands you
must face your responsibilities’.88 She considered that men should participate in
the religious education of their children: ‘Sunday is a good day for a Father to give
his children religious instruction. He should read the Bible with them and hear
them repeat the Catechism’.89 It was also the duty of the father ‘to see that his
82
‘Founding’.
‘When and Why the Mothers' Union Started’.
84
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 31.
85
Sumner, Home Life, 10. Object 2 of the Mothers' Union
86
Memoir of George Sumner, 60.
87
‘Marriage 2’; ‘Purity’; ‘Words’.
88
‘To Husbands and Fathers‘, MUJ, October 1905
89
‘To Fathers’, 154.
83
214
children are sent to a school where the Christian religion is taught honestly and
faithfully and where the master and mistress are believers in the Christian faith’.90
The previous chapter noted the significance Mary Sumner attached to the
sacrament of baptism, ‘the consecration of Child-life’ which was to ‘remind
Mothers that their children are sacred beings’ who were ‘only lent to their
parents to be trained up as His faithful soldiers and servants’.91 Although Mary
Sumner wrote that, ‘the seeds of evil are born in his [the child’s] little heart’,92 her
emphasis was not on the eradication of original sin, for ‘children are not, as a rule,
artful or deceitful unless they are made so by mismanagement or fear’,93 but on
the need to protect the child from falling into evil ways by training them for the
’battle of life [...] while they are as yet unsullied by the world’ in obedience,
truthfulness and self-control,94 for ‘every fallen man or woman [...] was once an
innocent child [...] ignorant of sin’.95 Moreover, she believed that: ‘There is in
every human heart an “impulse towards perfection”, a divine yearning for
holiness and Heaven, an instinctive straining after God’.96 Mary Sumner’s position
reflected not the interpretation of Anglican doctrine upheld by the evangelical
Hannah More, which regarded child nature as inherently evil, but rather a ‘tabula
rasa’ which saw the child as having the potential to have character and
achievement moulded by experience, example and educational impressions for
good or ill.97
90
Ibid., 153.
Home Life, 8; This and many of Mary Sumner's views accord with Charlotte Maria Shaw
Mason, Home Education: A Course of Lectures to Ladies, Etc (London: Kegan Paul & Co.,
1886). See below for further elaboration.
92
Sumner, ‘Obedience’, 27.
93
‘Truth’, 36.
94
‘Obedience’, 34; See also’Purity’, 42-43 for training to resist evil taking hold.
95
‘Words’, 53.
96
To Mothers of the Higher Classes, 2.
97
Wardle, English Popular Education, 81; Sumner, To Mothers of the Higher Classes, 2. The
Anglican Thirty Nine Articles (Article IX) expressed the issue thus: ‘Original sins stands not
in the following of Adam, but it is the fault and corruption of the nature of every man that
naturally is engendered of the offspring of Adam whereby man is very far from original
righteousness and is of his own nature inclined to evil.’
th
[http://www.cofec.org/The%2039%20Articles%20of%20Religion accessed 24 October
2013]. Mary Sumner’s interpretation emphasises the first phrase and the word inclined.
91
215
Mary Sumner’s memoir suggests that she had enjoyed a carefree childhood that
included adventurous riding and boating escapades with her brother.98 As an
adult she relished ‘childish merriment’ and took pleasure in the company of
children.99 Cathedral choir boys were regularly entertained for games and tea and
grandchildren, nephews and nieces were welcomed in The Close.100 Mary Sumner
considered the warmth her husband displayed towards children on his school
visits worthy of comment: ‘He often came in with a smile and a pleasantry ready
for some child; usually a laugh was heard before he had been there many minutes
- even the youngest child would feel at home with him’.101 The educational
methods advocated by Mary Sumner and mentioned in the pages of MU
magazines also suggest that she (and her organisation) were sympathetic to ‘child
centred’ conceptions of childhood (and contingent educational methods), which
sought the happiness of the child and acknowledged the child as a thinking being,
rather than an empty vessel to be filled by instruction, ideas exemplified in the
work of Friedrich Froebel and Johan Heinrich Pestalozzi. Mary Sumner’s stated
views accord in particular with those of Charlotte Mason the advocate of home
education.102
Mary Sumner considered that: ‘Habits formed at home and in childhood are
formed for life’.103 She appeared to follow (but did not make reference to) the
view expressed in Harriet Martineau’s Household Education that every home is a
school.104 Mary Sumner was an advocate of the curriculum proposed by Charlotte
Mason (1842-1923) the founder of the Parents’ National Education Union (PNEU).
Charlotte Mason was, from 1874 to 1878, located in the Winchester diocese as
Vice Principal of Bishop Otter Teacher Training College, Chichester. Her book
Home Education, published in 1886, was recommended reading in the leaflet
‘When and Why the Mothers’ Union Started’.105 Although Mary Sumner (as with
98
‘Early Life’.
‘Obedience’.
100
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 51, 52.
101
Memoir of George Sumner, 107.
102
Wardle, English Popular Education; Mason, Home Education. See Appendix 2 for
Charlotte Mason.
103
Sumner, ‘Obedience’, 27.
104
Martineau, Household Education, 7; Sumner, ‘Example’, 95, ' Home is the child's first
school. The parents are the child's first teachers.
105
‘When and Why the Mothers' Union Started’; Barbara Caine, ‘Mason, Charlotte Maria
Shaw (1842-1923)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press,
99
216
Harriet Martineau) made no direct references to Charlotte Mason in her writing,
many similarities in conceptions of childhood rooted in religious faith, the purpose
of education and approaches to learning can be discerned.106
Charlotte Mason was a practicing Anglican. Her attitude to childhood and
educational method were informed by faith. She upheld the notion of children as
a divine charge. Like Mary Sumner, her interpretation of Anglican doctrine
acknowledged the human potential for corruption but emphasised the role of the
parent in the preservation of the innocent nature of the child.107 Charlotte Mason
noted that a loving, respectful and ambitious code of education was to be found
in the New Testament in words, ‘laid down by Christ himself: OFFEND not DESPISE not - HINDER not - one of these little ones’.108 She suggested that this
encapsulated ‘whatever is included in training up a child in the way he should go’,
words that Mary Summer used in modified form for the motto of the MU.
Similarly, the quotation from Wordsworth’s Ode on Intimations of Immortality
from Recollections of Early Childhood, ‘trailing clouds of Glory we come from God
who is our home’, which continues, ‘Heaven lies about us in our infancy’, used by
Charlotte Mason, was later used to accompany a cover illustration used on MIC.109
In Home Education, Charlotte Mason asserted her view that children were a public
trust rather than the property of their parents and should be nurtured as citizens
for the benefit of society.110 Mary Sumner’s views were also in accord with
Charlotte Mason’s on the mother’s educational role and significance. Charlotte
Mason reproduced Pestalozzi’s assertion that ‘the mother is qualified by the
Creator Himself to become the principal agent in the development of the child’.111
She also advocated the need for mothers to have an appreciation of educational
2004), [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/37743, accessed 29 Aug. 2013]. Home
Education was conceived of either in addition to schooling or as a substitute.
106
Search of the Armitt Library Ambleside, where Charlotte Mason’s archive is housed, has
not revealed any correspondence with Mary Sumner. The destruction of Mary Sumner’s
personal papers after her death leaves potential correspondence between them a matter
for speculation.
107
Mason, Home Education, 330.
108
Ibid., 12.
109
Ibid., 11.
110
Ibid., 2.
111
Ibid.
217
theory.112 The curriculum advocated by Charlotte Mason was described by her as
‘generous’. Her motto for children, ‘I am, I ought, I can, I will’, placed emphasis on
the moral and spiritual empowerment of the child and her method of learning and
curriculum content fostered enquiry and richness of experience in literature,
music, the arts, physical expression and the natural world, in addition to grammar,
languages, history and geography.113
Mary Sumner’s message was voiced according to audiences stratified by class. Her
writing reveals her assumption that less socially advantaged homes would have
different expectations of curriculum and schooling to the socially advantaged
home.114 Indeed, the term ‘educated mothers’ was deployed by Mary Sumner to
indicate middle and upper-class women in the way that the term ‘cottage mother’
indicated working-class women and masked their disadvantage in euphemistic
language. Her advice on the education of children, although specifying desirable
religious knowledge, concentrated on childrearing and the development of
character and morals. She echoed Charlotte Mason in asserting that the mother
should be ‘regular and methodical’, for ‘babies are law abiding creatures’ who
should be brought up in ‘an atmosphere of love and cheerfulness, of order and
obedience to rule’.115 Mary Sumner considered that the training of children should
be undertaken by example, consistent discipline and protection from dangerous
influences: ‘Children are gifted with two powers during the first seven years,
Observation and Imitation. They watch their parents and must be taught strict
obedience and self-control’.116 Parents should demonstrate the exercise of selfcontrol in disciplining their children:117 ‘The best trained schoolmistresses and
masters are taught to rule children by a quiet, self-controlled manner and we
advise parents to try the same method at home.’118 Mary Sumner considered
112
Ibid., 3.
Spencer, ‘‘Knowledge as the Necessary Food of the Mind': Charlotte Mason’s
Philosophy of Education’; Mason, Home Education.
114
This reflects assumptions in social practice and in government thinking as in the
Clarendon and Taunton Commissions and the Forster Act.
115
Sumner, ‘Obedience’, 28; Mason, Home Education, 13. Charlotte Mason notes children
as 'law abiding'.
116
Sumner, ‘Letters to Mrs Maude’, 26 June 1917.
117
See 'Parental Discipline' in Mason, Home Education, 15-16, for similar views on
parental example.
118
Sumner, ‘Words’, 64.
113
218
kindness and consistency not only to be appropriate womanly (and manly) virtues
but to be effective educational measures. Here she echoes Harriet Martineau:119
Remember that obedience is not taught rightly to children by beating,
hitting, slapping, rough angry words and ill usage, but by gentle, loving
firmness and self-control. Mr Rarey the great horse tamer has told us that
he has known an angry word raise the pulse of a horse ten beats a minute;
think then how it must affect a child! The ill usage of children by
thoughtless, intemperate and passionate parents is terrible and they
oftentimes satisfy their conscience that they are severe only for the good of
their children, while in fact, they are merely giving way to their angry
passions. Children are completely at the mercy of those around them they
are often timid and acutely sensitive.120
Nor did Mary Sumner approve of issuing threats: ‘Who can tell the misery and
terror and nervous excitement such language causes to children’. Her
recommendations were to ‘speak lovingly, gently but decidedly’ and ‘think before
you give any order and be quite sure your child can obey your command’. She
advised: ‘never give unnecessary orders or more than one at a time, but, when
the order is given, see that it is obeyed, even if it costs you time and trouble’.121
Mary Sumner also noted: ‘It is by imitation far more than by precept that we learn
everything’.122
The reverent treatment of children should involve treating them with courtesy;123
it also involved treating them with justice. Mary Sumner believed that it was:
a parent’s duty to love each child equally and to be fair and just and loving
in dealing with each one [...] It is impossible to overestimate the grief
caused to a sensitive child by neglect or indifference, or the bitter feeling of
being less appreciated, less loved, less admired and less cared for than the
beautiful, clever or fascinating brother or sister. The sorrows of sensitive
children are very acute and very secret, but terribly real.124
Whilst (as noted in Chapter 3) conceding authority to men,125 Mary Sumner felt
that the different qualities of the sexes were complementary and should be
appreciated and respected. In her 1888 book, To Mothers of the Higher Classes,
119
Martineau, Household Education, 46-48.
Sumner, ‘Obedience’, 30.
121
Ibid., 30-35.
122
‘Purity’, 50.
123
‘Words’, 63.
124
To Mothers of the Higher Classes, 24; Mason, Home Education: 17.
125
Sumner, ‘Paper Read at the Church Congress in Hull 1890’; ‘To Husbands and Fathers ‘;
‘Mothers' Work Outside’.
120
219
Mary Sumner made a specific comment on the damage to the character of boys
by spoiling them at the expense of girls, which also implied recognition of the
worth of girls:
There is one mistake made very commonly in home education, which lies at
the root of much evil in men and that is the preference given by parents
(notably by mothers) to their sons. They are more often prized than
daughters, especially if there is an ancient name or vast inheritance to be
possessed by the eldest son. From his birth he is an object of admiring
interest to parents and relations, to friends and servants. They conspire
together to spoil him in his childhood: the sisters are put in the shade and
he is the pet and idol of the family. Later on, as a school boy he is indulged
in every possible way; and his sisters are expected to submit to his boyish
tyranny, to wait upon his whims and wishes until he grows to think that the
world in general and his sisters in particular were made for him. This sort of
home training of boys versus girls, which encourages the tyranny of the
boys over the girls, is very general, it is a prodigious wrong done to the
children and it is impossible too strongly to deprecate the short sighted
folly of such an education.126
If boys were trained to respect women it would lead them to ‘purer and nobler
lives’ and ‘prevent the contempt and disrespect for the honour and happiness of
women which causes such dark pages to be written concerning the lives of some
men’.127
Parents should set an example of ‘truth and honesty’. Children should always be
told the truth even if it was unpalatable. Again, Mary Sumner’s view accords with
Charlotte Mason’s that children’s utterances are a window into the child’s mind
from which those concerned with pedagogy may gain insight.128 Questions asked
by children:
... must be treated, not only truthfully but respectfully, for the child-mind is
fresher from God and more unsullied than our travel stained minds and
they teach us marvellous things by their quick-sighted simplicity and
thoughtful, innocent impression of the new world upon which they have
entered.129
Mary Sumner made references suggestive of a strategy for tackling sex education
in remarks made on ‘puzzling and perplexing questions’. Parents might postpone
126
To Mothers of the Higher Classes, 22-23.
Ibid.
128
Mason, Home Education, 5.
129
Sumner, ‘Truth’, 38-39.
127
220
answering difficult questions in the case of ‘a religious or any other sort of
difficulty which it is beyond the capacity of a child to understand’. Mary Sumner
suggested saying: ‘My child I will answer this when you are older. Meanwhile do
not ask anyone else to explain to you. Always come to me or father when you are
puzzled; we will tell you what is the truth only trust us’.130 In later years she made
reference to sex education in an undated letter to Lady Chichester, her successor
as MU Central President. Whilst she endorsed parents as the educators of
children in sexual matters:
I heartily agree [with you] in explaining to children the consecration of body
and soul-Holy Baptism and then self reverence and then later on sharing
the sacred facts of a child’s birth. This every mother is bound to do-It is a
mother’s duty it is a father’s also (to his sons).131
She felt it was: ‘a mistake to discuss the sex question in public when clergymen
and laymen are present’.132
The model boy or girl of any class, as envisaged by Mary Sumner, had been taught
to pray, to tell the truth, be obedient, to honour parents, to demonstrate selfrestraint and to have a growing understanding of what was forbidden as sinful or
impure. Mary Sumner’s message that children should be cherished as the
handiwork of the Creator, was an assertion of their worth. She associated them
with the religious symbolic capital of innocence; thus its preservation was a
source of capital for parents, especially mothers who were deemed to be divinely
ordained as primary carers. In order to uphold their responsibility to God, child
and nation (for the right religious education of children represented a capital
investment in future citizens), mothers should possess symbolic religious capital
as ‘good’ women. They also needed the pedagogic expertise necessary for
moulding character and equipping the child with religious faith. As mothering was
a divine charge, it was appropriate that the mother herself should lay the
foundations for the future spiritual life of the child. Thus motherhood, identified
with the highest authority of religion, was invested with symbolic capital.
130
Ibid.
‘Letters to Lady Chichester’.
132
Ibid.; For attitudes to sex education informed by moral, scientific and eugenic
viewpoints see Hall, Sex, Gender and Social Change in Britain since 1880, 33, 44, 88-89.
131
221
Sanctifying motherhood may also be interpreted as a strategy for the recruitment
of pedagogic workers on behalf of the Church.
Education in mothering for all classes
Mary Sumner believed that the MU should embrace ‘all ranks and classes, for the
duty and responsibility of a mother to her child is in principle, identically the same
from the highest to the humblest of mothers’.133 She noted that ‘the rules on the
[MU] card concern every mother’ and asserted the value of all mothers’ work in
rearing good citizens by claiming that: ‘the future of England depends greatly on
the home training of the children of today’.134 The socially and educationally
advantaged mother should lead by example,135 but moral authority was also
needed. Although the ‘educated’ mother ought to ‘know best’, Mary Sumner did
not assume that social status equated with better parenting and noted: ‘There is
quite as much need of stirring up the hearts of Mothers in the higher ranks of life
to a sense of their responsibility. It is hardly fair to cast all the blame of neglect on
one class of Mothers’.136 Writing directed at middle/upper class mothers
repeatedly asserted the importance of active parenting and identified it as a
source of symbolic capital. Mothers should be interested in their role, like
Charlotte Yonge’s exemplary mother Lady Merrifield, in her 1885 novel ,The Two
Sides of the Shield, who ‘preferred the company and training of her children to
going into society in her husband’s absence’.137
Mary Sumner revealed her evangelical emphasis on the need to witness religion
in all aspects of life when she chastised the ‘worldly’ mother, ‘busy with society paying visits, yachting, receiving large shooting parties or going abroad for weeks
and months’, for allowing her children ‘to spend the greater part of their lives
with nurses and maid servants, or later with tutors and governesses who even if
most excellent and conscientious, as they often are, could never be to the
children what the mother if faithful should be’.138 This was a recurrent theme in
133
Home Life, 3.
Ibid., 9. See Table 3 for wording of MU cards.
135
To Mothers of the Higher Classes, 11.
136
Ibid., 11-12.
137
Yonge, The Two Sides of the Shield, 22.
138
To Mothers of the Higher Classes, 16-17.
134
222
Mary Sumner’s writing and was pursued in the pages of MIC.139 Her concern was
that whilst other aspects of education were well attended to, moral and religious
education was not. Despite her intention to dignify the capital of motherhood by
emphasising it as a religious responsibility, Mary Sumner’s position also suggested
an anxiety, shared amongst upper/middle class mothers who employed staff for
childcare, focused on suspicion of the motives, competence and morals of the
lower-class employee. Charlotte Mason’s Home Education warned that
‘coarseness and rudeness in his nurse does the tender child lasting harm. Many a
child leaves the nursery with his moral sense blunted and with an alienation from
his heavenly Father set up which may last his lifetime’.140 Charlotte Yonge
repeated an anecdote concerned with the subversion of her childhood discipline
by a well-meaning but morally misguided maid.141 Mary Sumner pointed out that
French and German governesses were not equipped ‘to teach the tenets of our
faith’.142 Consequently some upper-class children received a worse religious
education ‘than the children in our National Schools and are [...] not grounded at
all in the doctrines of our Church’.143 Mary Sumner considered this a ‘disgrace’
and her suggestion that ‘uncertainty in matters of religion and the growing
scepticism of the present day, may be traced [...] to the want of clear and definite
religious teaching in our homes’, demonstrates her view that good citizenship and
social cohesion were related to conformity to religious standards of behaviour.144
In seeing the remedy for societal ills in parental interventions she was asserting
the worth of the symbolic capital of the mother. She further affirmed the symbolic
capital of the mother by associating it with divine authority. Speaking in 1887 at
the first MU Diocesan Conference, she said it was: ‘the duty of every mother with
her own lips to teach her child that he is God’s child’.145 To help dispel ‘the
miasma of doubt and disbelief’ mothers should engage with their children in daily
Bible reading and prayer.146
139
Ibid., 12, 13, 15, 17; Letter to Mrs Maude on the Mothers' Union in London Failing to
Reach Educated Mothers, 28 Sep. 1917: LPL MU/CO/PRES/5/3; Letter to 'Dearest Minnie'
Concerning Revision of the Mothers' Union Cards: LPL MU/CO/PRES/5/1.
140
Mason, Home Education, 18.
141
Yonge, ‘ A Real Childhood'.
142
To Mothers of the Higher Classes, 18.
143
Ibid.
144
Ibid., 19.
145
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 31.
146
To Mothers of the Higher Classes, 20.
223
Mary Sumner acted to motivate and educate upper-class women in her notions of
good parenting, so that they might act as educators amongst women of their own
class and rank and file members. In order to achieve pedagogic authority these
women needed to exemplify religious conduct: they also needed expertise as
speakers on educational themes. Speaking on behalf of an organisation
authorised by the Church gave them additional pedagogic authority.
The messages Mary Sumner directed at the upper-class mother in To Mothers of
the Higher Classes were the same as those addressed to less socially advantaged
mothers and some passages were reproduced verbatim.147 When advice differed,
it concerned the practicalities of supervision. Upper-class mothers were unlikely
to allow their daughters out without chaperones, or to the public house.
Similarly, the upper-class mother did not have to exercise ingenuity in segregating
girls and boys at bed or bath time but modesty and the avoidance of bad company
were advocated for all classes. Mary Sumner emphasised training in obedience,
truthfulness and habits of temperance across the social spectrum.148 Fostering
habits of self-restraint were similarly advocated for all mothers and advice against
spoiling children was also a uniting theme. The overriding message was that
children should be educated in religion and morality by the example and
involvement of mothers and fathers.
The MU’s local branch meetings (as noted in Chapter 3) included educational
content in the form of talks or Bible study.149 These initiatives required qualified
‘lady’ speakers. Further education for an Associate’s role was addressed in
‘Drawing room’ meetings which included the reading of informative papers such
as, ‘The most satisfactory way of promoting Church teaching through the State
Schools’; ‘The advantage of higher education in women’; ‘The desirability of
restricting the publication of Police reports in the Press’ or ‘The conditions of
women at work in factories’,150 which indicate the MU engagement in matters of
topical concern beyond the home.
147
Ibid., 33, 35, included the same wording as ‘Obedience’, 33, ‘Truth’, 39.
‘Temperance’; To Mothers of the Higher Classes, 26, 27.
149
Hearth and Home, ‘Leading Societies’.
150
Coombs, George and Mary Sumner, 110.
148
224
Mary Sumner noted that: ‘principles of physical moral and religious education
should be studied and reproduced in simple form to the poorer mothers,
instruction should be given in sanitary, medical and industrial subjects on cookery
and thrift’.151 At the Winchester Diocesan Committee meeting of May 1889, Mary
Sumner suggested subjects that would be suitable for Associates to initiate for
discussion at branch meetings.152 Later that year the committee resolved ‘to form
a band of speakers’ who could be called upon to address meetings.153 Later a list
of speakers was given in MIC.154 Mary Sumner encouraged women to become
speakers by asserting the ‘wonderful nearness of Christ’ that the committed
speaker might experience.155 She also gave practical advice. ‘Hints to Associates’,
also published in MIC, offered directions for taking a meeting. Church halls should
be made as much like a drawing room as possible, with flowers, a carpet and
comfortable chairs not like a hall or a servants’ hall.156 Associates were
encouraged to recommend The Illustrated Catechism and Good News Told in
Simple Words as an aid for mothers in Christian Teaching157 and were kept up to
date with the latest MU publications.158 In 1899, a lending library for the use of
Associates was proposed.159
Speakers for the MU (as noted in Chapter 3) disseminated information in more
public arenas through Diocesan Conferences, Church Conferences and mass
meetings. These were educative in affirming the message of the MU amongst its
membership and wider audiences, who included clergy and upper and middleclass men. As these occasions were reported in the press they also served to raise
the public profile of the organisation and its identification of mothers as religious
educators.160
151
‘When and Why the Mothers' Union Started’; For the gendered and class stratified
influence in informing curricula for working-class girls See Gomersall, Working-Class Girls
in Nineteenth-Century England: Life, Work and Schooling.
152
WDMU Committee, ‘Minute Book 1886-1910’, May 28th 1889.
153
Ibid., November 8th 1889
154
Anon, ‘List of Speakers’, MIC, April 1891, 120.
155
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 40.
156
Sumner, ‘Hints to Associates’, 113. 'Cottage' indicated working class.
157
WDMU Committee, ‘Minute Book 1886-1910’, 14th November 1894.
158
Ibid., May 28th 1890.
159
Ibid., November 2nd 1899.
160
Ridding, ‘Home Duties’; Sumner, ‘Paper Read at the Church Congress in Hull 1890’.
225
In her efforts to ‘stir up’ all mothers to exemplify ‘the higher life’,161 Mary Sumner
exalted the symbolic capital of motherhood by associating it with the joy of
religious experience and an ‘understanding of the value of things eternal’.162
Through informally educating advantaged women to her notions of religious and
educational capital, Mary Sumner sought to recruit them to exercise pedagogic
action towards their peers and women of lower social status. By this manoeuvre
she sought to offer the rewards of maternal capital and to extend the pedagogic
authority of motherhood to include less socially advantaged women, who, in turn,
might act as pedagogic workers in upholding the Christian doxa and notions of
childhood and childrearing that Mary Sumner professed.
Spreading the word: further field manoeuvres in
education
The dissemination of religious knowledge through printed
materials
Expansion in institutional educational provision coincided with a trend towards
expansion in the mass production of popular media that reflected the increasing
literacy of those lower down (but not at the very bottom of) the social scale.163
Advisory literature on religious themes in the form of tracts, pamphlets and
magazines proliferated, as those seeking to uphold a religious doxa, notably the
Religious Tract Society, used publication to promote their views.164 Disapproval of
the ‘wrong sort’ of literature, as epitomised by the sensational ‘penny dreadful’
aimed at working-class youths, reflected concern amongst upholders of religion,
or the social status quo, that reading had the power to corrupt morals and
encourage anti-social behaviour.165
161
To Mothers of the Higher Classes, 11, 60.
Ibid., 60, 59.
163
Altick, The English Common Reader: A Social History of the Mass Reading Public, 18001900; Vincent, Literacy and Popular Culture: England 1750-1914. Vincent suggests that
there is no evidence to link directly formal schooling and the growth of literacy.
164
The Religious Tract Society (1799) reflected evangelical revival. Sympathetic to
Protestant denominations but anti-Roman Catholic, it published The Sunday at Home from
1880, the Boys Own Paper 1879 and The Girls Own Paper.
165
Knight, The Nineteenth Century Church, 37; Religious publishing was profitable.
Williams, ‘‘Is There a Bible in the House?' Gender Religion and Family Culture’; Kelly
Mayes, ‘The Disease of Reading and Victorian Periodicals’, in Literature in the
162
226
Mary Sumner used publishing to disseminate her views and to counter ideas or
material she felt ran counter to the doxa she upheld. Despite the regularity of
branch meetings and the large scale attendance at mass meetings, leaflets and in
particular the MU magazines that members were obliged to buy, provided a
means to spread educational material to a much wider audience.166 Printed
material had the advantage that it might be passed to neighbours or other family
members. Written material also reached members overseas.
The distribution of literature was given attention at Winchester Diocesan
Committee meetings. Existing Church organisation and other methods were
employed to circulate material. In 1888, the committee resolved to circulate MU
pamphlets to parishes where there was as yet no MU and request their
distribution amongst parishioners.167 Four years later, back numbers of the MUJ
were distributed to soldiers’ wives on troop ships at Portsmouth.168 Free grants of
literature were made to poor parishes in the diocese and to one in east London.169
Associates were urged to obtain fresh subscriptions towards the cost of
literature.170
The power of reading: education through the Mothers’ Union
Magazines, Charlotte Yonge, Mothers in Council, the Mothers’
Union Journal
The rules on the MU card encapsulated Mary Sumner’s understanding of the
power of reading to influence the reader for good or ill: ‘The power of books and
general reading in particular in forming character and opinion is well known’.171
The original card for ‘ordinary’ members, advocated daily Bible reading in Rule 8
and the admonishment, ‘Be careful that your children do not read bad books or
Marketplace: Nineteenth-Century British Publishing and Reading Practices Cambridge
Studies in Nineteenth-Century Literature and Culture Series, No. 5., ed. John O. Jordan and
Robert L. Patten (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1995).
166
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 147.
167
WDMU Committee, ‘Minute Book 1886-1910', 5th June 1888.
168
Ibid., 8 June 1892.
169
Ibid., 21 Nov. 1890
170
Ibid., 14 Nov. 1894
171
To Mothers of the Higher Classes, 25.
227
police reports’, came further up the list as Rule 5.172 Mary Sumner’s feelings on
the subject were unequivocal. In an address to members she wrote:
Bad reading is like poison; it injures, it destroys, not the body, but the mind
and conscience [...] some of the worse suggestions to break God’s laws are
taught in print. I dare not speak of the infidel books and papers which are
circulated in this country.173
Mothers of the ‘Higher Classes’ had a similar message:
Unprincipled or trashy novels, whether French or English should be strictly
forbidden, because the habit of reading bad novels dissipates and weakens
the energies of the mind [...] But the best literature - poetry, fiction and
history - should be given freely and in this way a wholesome taste is formed
for that which is good and ennobling.174
Mary Sumner was not alone in her belief in the power of reading to influence the
conduct and character of the reader.175 She shared the middle and upper-class
anxiety about the stability of the social order that was reflected in the belief that
sensational literature was an incentive to crime.176 Mary Sumner considered that
‘bad books’ and material on scandalous topics would corrupt the national as well
as individual character.177 Her interest in promoting the ‘right’ sort of reading was
shared by members of her network.178 Literature and plays were selected as
subjects for discussion at the MU London Conference of 1896.179 Educational
materials such as ‘Mr Rule’s scheme for Bible reading’ were discussed and
recommended at Diocesan Committee meetings,180 and in the MU quarterlies,
which exemplified the ‘right’ sort of reading.
172
Home Life, 6. Police Reports published in newspapers or the sensational Police Gazette
might contain details of violent crime, sexual misdemeanours, drunkenness or other
examples of immorality. Similar sentiments were expressed on the card for ’educated’
mothers.
173
‘Reading’, Home Life, 84.
174
To Mothers of the Higher Classes, 25.
175
John Ruskin, Sesame and Lilies (Nelson: Hendon, 2000 (f/p1865)), provides an
influential example.
176
Patrick A. Dunae, ‘Penny Dreadfuls: Late Nineteenth-Century Boys' Literature and
Crime’, Victorian Studies 22, no. 2 (1979); Anon, ‘ A Youthful Burglar’, The Hampshire
Chronicle, 6 Jan. 1877. The Chronicle reported that he was ‘inflamed by the study of
sensational literature’.
177
Mary Sumner, Letter to the Editor The Times, 'Improper Books', 9 Dec. 1909; Sumner,
Erskine and Wilberforce, ‘Letter to the Editor The Times, 'Undesirable Literature''.
178
‘Letter to the Editor The Times, 'Undesirable Literature''.
179
WDMU Committee, ‘Minute Book 1886-1910’, 4 Oct. 1895.
180
Ibid., 8 Nov. 1893.
228
The magazine Mothers in Council (MIC) (1891) was initially funded by George
Sumner.181 It added to a well-established tradition of material aimed at a female
readership located in the ‘leisured’ middle class.182 The Mothers’ Union Journal
(MUJ) (1888) reflected the trend in publication catering for a market for increased
mass literacy.183 The two tier editions, aimed at different classes, followed the
pattern adopted previously by the GFS. Friendly Leaves, its magazine for
members, with its mix of news, stories and notes on Bible study, was similar in
format to the MUJ and some material appeared in both magazines.184 There were
further links between the MU and GFS publications. Charlotte Yonge who was to
edit MIC was the GFS’s Diocesan Literature Correspondent and submitted
material to its publications.185 Her protégée, co-editor and successor as editor of
the Monthly Packet, Christabel Coleridge, also became the editor of Friendly
Leaves.186
The MU magazines addressed religious themes, including missionary activity and
issues of concern, such as secular schooling, with the intention of informing the
views of readers.187 The theme of educating the readers to be educators was
common to both MU magazines and Mary Sumner was a regular contributor. MIC
assumed a highly literate readership of middle and upper-class women, who were
likely to have received, like Mary Sumner and the magazine’s editor, Charlotte
181
George Sumner edited MIC 1901-8. He contributed a report on the proceedings of the
Anglican House of Laymen on the religious education of the Middle and Upper Classes,
MIC, April 1891, 69-71. Sales of magazines and other literature were a key source of
income for the MU. In 1914, an additional magazine, The Workers’ Paper was published.
182
Gorham, The Victorian Girl, 65-80. The Monthly Packet is an example.
183
Sally Mitchell, ‘The New Herione: Penny Weekly Magazines of the 1870s’, in The Fallen
Angel: Chastity and Women's Reading 1835-1880 (Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green
University Popular Press, 1981).
184
M. Bramston, ‘In the Workhouse’, MUJ, July 1903, 65.
185
Heath-Stubbs, Friendships Highway.
186
Georgina O’Brien Hill, ‘Charlotte Yonge's 'Goosedom', NIneteenth-Century Gender
Studies, no. 8.1. [http://www.ncgsjournal.com/issue81/hill.htm, accessed 21 Aug. 2012];
Elizabeth Lovegrove, ‘'Dangerous Display': Charlotte Yonge, Christabel Coleridge and
Pseudonyms in the Monthly Packet’, Women's History Magazine 2013, 12-18. Christabel R.
Coleridge and Charlotte Mary Yonge, Charlotte Mary Yonge: Her Life and Letters (London;
New York: Macmillan & Co., 1903). Through The Monthly Packet and the privately
circulated Barnacle, Charlotte Yonge acted as mentor to young women writers. Christabel
Coleridge (1843-1921) mentored by Charlotte Yonge as one of the ‘Goslings’ was her first
biographer.
187
Rebecca Styler, ‘The Contexts of Women's Literary Theology in the Nineteenth Century’,
in Literary Theology by Women Writers of the Nineteenth Century (Farnham: Ashgate,
2010), 3-18, discusses the uses of secular writing to pass on religious doxa and construct
women's religious identities.
229
Yonge, the kind of education evoked in the latter’s novels. The MUJ included
entertaining fiction that was intended to counter ‘the low bad stories sold from a
penny to a shilling to the masses of people who crave for exciting literature’, the
effects of which Mary Sumner (and others) were so fearful.188
In requesting Charlotte Yonge (her fellow Associate in the GFS) to edit MIC, Mary
Sumner associated the magazine with a figure invested with considerable
symbolic capital as a ‘good churchwoman’ and with pedagogic authority as a
popular educator. Charlotte Yonge was a prolific novelist noted for her morally
improving works.189 She was the author of text books such as English Church
History 190 and historical tales for children. 191 She also had a reputation as editor
of the highly respectable Monthly Packet (1851 to 1890), in which ‘appropriate’
reading was discussed, a theme that was pursued in MIC and in the MUJ. 192
Charlotte Yonge, like Mary Sumner, had been home educated to a good standard
by interested parents193 and brought up in the expectation that she should
participate in the education, particularly the religious education, of the ‘lower’
classes. Her reminiscences of a disciplined and somewhat austere childhood,
which featured in MIC, note that:
...from seven years old my mother took me to the Sunday-school, first to
learn and then to teach, when however I was much too young to be put in
authority. I was a more conscientious than a religious child. Except [for] a
vehement pleasure in the Sunday-school - which was not so much for
religion’s sake as for the love of teaching…194
188
Sumner, ‘Reading’, Hme LIfe.83 -94. 86.
Dennis, Charlotte Yonge (1823-1901): Novelist of the Oxford Movement: A Literature of
Victorian Culture and Society.
190
Charlotte Mary Yonge, English Church History, Adapted for Use in Schools, Etc (London:
National Society, 1883), an example of her National Society publications.
191
Aunt Charlotte's Stories of English History for the Little Ones (London, 1873), an
example of her large output for children.
192
Moruzi, ‘'Never Read Anything That Can at All Unsettle Your Religious Faith': Reading
and Writing in the Monthly Packet’.
193
Yonge, ‘ A Real Childhood’. Charlotte's mother followed the Edgeworth book on
education; Charlotte Yonge, ‘A Real Childhood - the Teens’, MIC, January 1893. 3, 4. Her
Father taught her arithmetic, geometry and Latin.
194
Yonge, ‘ A Real Childhood’; The childhood memories of another MU and GFS activist can
be found in Creighton, Memoir of a Victorian Woman.
189
230
Charlotte Yonge sustained a life long association with village schooling, both
Sunday and day.195 Her notes on ‘Sunday School Tickets’, in the November 1876
Otterbourne Parish Magazine, illustrate her understanding of children and notions
of pedagogy:
A ticket is the reward for a sacred lesson repeated by heart or writing
answers to a question. It ought to be understood that ill repeated lessons
do not deserve a ticket and that it is unfair and unjust to give one not
properly earned. Some children can learn more easily but the amount must
be proportional to their capacity by the teacher. Tickets are
encouragements not so much coin to be purchased by repeating anything
however badly as some little girls seem to think.196
She provided an appealing portrait of a fictional school and its pupils in the
‘Langley’ tales,197 which Christabel Coleridge (c.1903) anticipated would be ‘in
1950 or so... valuable evidence of what the Church of England did for education
and civilization when she still had the village schools in her hand’.198 Christabel
Coleridge also asserts Charlotte Yonge’s influence in encouraging young ladies to
act as educational philanthropists, by providing fictional role models who start a
school (The Daisy Chain) or take GFS classes, as in The Two Sides of the Shield and
by making schoolchildren appealing, via the ‘Langley School’ stories.199 Just as the
‘Langley’ tales give a picture of village schooling for the poor, Charlotte Yonge’s
novels200 give an insight into the educational experience and aspirations of home
educated young ladies, themes that were reflected in the pages of MIC.
Charlotte Young’s childhood reminiscences were not the only articles on the
upbringing of children in MIC. Following an introduction from Mary Sumner that
explained that the purpose of the magazine was to aid its readers in gaining the
expertise required in order to accomplish the ‘exalted mission’ of childrearing in
195
Austin Whitaker, Winchester Memories (20), Mrs Elliot Talks About Her Old
Schoolteacher Charlotte Yonge, Winchester Memories Oral History Recordings: HRO
AV/2/28/51.
196
Charlotte Yonge, Otterbourne Parish Magazine, November 1876: HRO 77M78 M/Z1.
197
Charlotte Mary Yonge, Lads and Lasses of Langley (London: W. Smith, 1881); Langley
Little Ones. Six Stories (London: Walter Smith, 1882); Langley Adventures (London :
Walter Smith, 1884), represent the series.
198
Christabel Coleridge is quoted in Ethel Romaines, Charlotte Mary Yonge an Appreciation
(London: Mowbray, 1908), 34.
199
Ibid., 39.
200
Charlotte Mary Yonge, The Daisy Chain, or, Aspirations: A Family Chronicle (London:
Virago, 1988 f/p 1856).
231
the ‘sphere which God has appointed’ in the home,201 the initial editorial
announced the intention that:
Essays will be given in babyhood, childhood, boyhood, girlhood and youth,
notices of books likely to be useful [...] in each number some difficult
points in training will be propounded and a few pages devoted to mothers’
meetings and literature for men.202
Mary Sumner’s, ‘Concerning Infants’, emphasised the importance of the
affectionate maternal attention to young children: ‘Do not fail to abundantly
caress him and speak kindly’.203 Articles that signalled the dangers of parental
neglect were designed to prick the consciences of upper/middle-class women:
‘Who Can Prevent It? Physical Dangers’, gave anecdotes of illness and accidents
attributable to excessive delegation of child care to servants.204 The following
issue also reflected implicit anxiety about class in enumerating the moral perils
the child of the neglectful mother might face.205 The importance of the parental
role in moral training was also addressed in articles such as ‘Willy’s Will’, which
dealt with moulding the character of the young child. The Reverend E. B. Layard,
in ‘Boys and Religion’, advised mothers to become the confidantes of their boys in
order to fortify them against the moral perils of school.206
Authors of MIC articles were interested in developments in pedagogic method.
Mary Johnson’s, ‘Bend the Twig and Shape the Tree’, advocated the pedagogy of
Froebel:
The system of amusement and instruction formulated by Froebel and his
disciples is so valuable and comprehensive I earnestly advise all parents to
visit a genuine kindergarten to study the principles as well as to copy the
practices there inculcated. For all mothers and indeed fathers it is right to
know how to teach their children [...] it is a pity to let them all have to begin
at School, when we know and they can learn.207
201
Mary Sumner, ‘Introduction’, MIC, January 1891, 5, 6.
Charlotte Yonge, ‘Editorial‘, MIC, January 1891, 11-12.
203
Mary Sumner, ‘Concerning Infants’, MIC, July 1891, 138-145.
204
A Mother, ‘Who Can Prevent It? Physical Dangers’, MIC, January 1891, 14-20; See
Charlotte Mary Yonge, The Daisy Chain; or, Aspirations. A Family Chronicle. By the Author
of the Heir of Redclyffe, Etc. (London: John W. Parker & Son, 1856). It includes a cautionary
tale of a baby poisoned by laudanum by the ignorant unsupervised nursemaid.
205
A Mother, ‘Who Can Prevent It? Moral Dangers’, MIC, April 1891, 85-88.
206
Rev. E. B. Layard, ‘Boys and Religion’, MIC, January 1891.' Boys and The Formation of
Character', April 1892 , 98-107 addressed similar themes.
207
Mary Johnson, ‘Bend the Twig and Shape the Tree’, MIC, January 1891, 33-41.
202
232
The pages of MIC reflected the concern of ‘lady mothers’ and attitudes to the
education of daughters against the context of developments in the provision of
formal secondary schooling and higher education for middle and upper-class
girls.208 Whilst MIC did not challenge the purpose of girls’ education as
preparation for motherhood and home duties, it reflected the negotiation and
diversity of interpretation as to what means of education were most appropriate.
The tone and content of MIC locates it as responding to an aspiration amongst
women to be better informed and more authoritative. The key issue identified in
articles on the choice of educational setting was that the religious faith and moral
standing of the girl should not be compromised. Yet, the insistence on femininity
and respectability emphasised in the curricula and ethos of intellectually
aspirational girls’ schools and the discouragement of social mixing in elite
establishments such as Cheltenham Ladies’ College,209 suggests that readers of
MIC may have also been concerned to preserve their daughters’ social status as
young ladies.210
The article ‘High Schools and Home Education’ considered that there were
potential drawbacks to both. It urged mothers to be vigilant in the choice of
school or staff for home teaching so that moral standards might not be
compromised.211 What the article left unvoiced was the concern that schools
might be a source of social contamination if girls mixed with those of inferior
social status. ‘The Modern Education of Girls’ and ‘Foreign Studies’, addressed the
recurrent theme of the dangers of foreign governesses, whose religion and moral
standards might be misguided and inferior.212 In 1892, ‘Girls and University
Education’, gave a cautious welcome to university education for girls as
compatible with the development of womanly talents, with the proviso: ‘never let
208
Burstyn, Victorian Education.
Joyce F. Goodman, ‘Girls' Public Day School Company (Act. 1872-1905)’, Oxford
Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford University Press, Oct. 2005 ),
[http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/theme/94164, accessed 28 Aug. 2013]. Girls' Public
Day School Company schools were more socially inclusive of a broader predominantly
middle-class spectrum.
210
Delamont, ‘The Nineteenth Century Woman’, 158.' Schools had to fight to be allowed to
teach girls all the subjects boys received', ‘The Domestic Ideology and Women’s
Education’, 174-177; Gorham, The Victorian Girl: 105-109.
211
Mrs Knight, ‘High Schools and Home Education’, MIC, April 1891, 107-113.
212
Anon, ‘The Modern Education of Girls’, MIC, January 1892, 43-46; ‘Foreign Studies’,
MIC, April 1892, 108-113.
209
233
a girl enter the battlefield of university life whose religious convictions are
confused’.213
Prominent members of the MU reflected varying interpretations of appropriate
educational provision for girls. Whilst Louise Creighton, Diocesan President for
Peterborough and member of the NUWW,214 was a keen advocate of university
education,215 Lucy Soulsby, MU delegate at international conferences on morality
and Girls ‘Public Day School Company headmistress, opposed the opening of
degrees to women.216 They were united however, in envisaging a more serious
education for women and arguing for it, as enhancing conventional religiously
legitimised notions of womanliness.217
Charlotte Yonge’s shifting position on educational provision for girls illustrates the
cautious negotiation of women’s access to the expanding field of education
reflected in the pages of MIC. Although an advocate of education for women and
sympathetic to the pleasure of intellectual endeavour, she initially (1886) resisted
the idea of a college for women, claiming that superior women were formed by
home influence and best educated there by their own efforts.218 Through her
writing in the Monthly Packet and the privately circulated Barnacle, Charlotte
Yonge nurtured a generation of women in this category, some of whom went on
to be pioneer educators.219 Amongst other notable educationalists and writers in
Charlotte Yonge’s circle was Elizabeth Wordsworth,220 the first principal of the
213
Edith Robson, ‘Girls and University Education’, MIC, January 1892, 29-32.
See chapter on mission for the remit of the National Union of Women Workers and
Chapter 3 for Louise Creighton, wife of Bishop Mandell Creighton.
215
Two of Creighton's daughters attended university, Lucia (1874-1947) at Newnham and
Gemma (1887-1958) at Lady Margaret Hall. Creighton, Memoir of a Victorian Woman:
134; Covert, A Victorian Marriage: 130, 238.
216
Delamont, ‘The Nineteenth Century Woman’, 154-160. Delamont identifies
'uncompromising' and 'separatist' views on appropriate higher education. The former
favoured existing curricula aimed at males, the latter felt reform was needed to suit
women and men; Kate Flint, ‘Soulsby, Lucy Helen Muriel (1856-1927)', Oxford Dictionary
of National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004).
[http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/48573, accessed 21 June 2013]. See Appendix 2.
At Cambridge Emily Davies established Girton on separatist lines; Jemima Clough at
Newham favoured special women’s examinations. At Oxford, Somerville was
uncompromising and Lady Margaret Hall separatist.
217
Bush, ‘Special Strengths for Their Own Special Duties’.
218
Battiscombe, Charlotte Mary Yonge, 146; Letter to Emily Davies.
219
O’Brien Hill, ‘Charlotte Yonge's 'Goosedom'‘.
220
Romaines, Charlotte Mary Yonge an Appreciation, 137-158. For Elizabeth Wordsworth,
see Appendix 2.
214
234
Oxford women’s college, Lady Margaret Hall (1878), to which Charlotte Yonge
gave a guarded welcome, hoping that it would be run on religious principles to
raise the standard of womanhood.221 By 1893, Charlotte Yonge acknowledged
public examinations as a means for a girl ‘to be useful with your talents’222 and
her reconciliation in old age, to the idea of university life for women was marked
by the inauguration of a university scholarship fund in her name in 1899. This was
available to girls of the Winchester High School, which had its founder and first
headmistress in Charlotte Young’s protégé Anna Bramston. Charlotte Yonge was a
member of the school’s governing body.223
MIC offered advice on reading to support parental pedagogic expertise. The
article ‘Mental Growing Pains’ advised on fiction as an aid to discussing character
for adolescent girls.224 In ‘Books for the Nursery’, Charlotte Yonge suggested that
fairy tales should be an occasional treat. It was her view that reading should be
‘above the intellect rather than below’.225 For older boys and girls she noted:
Generally the same books that boys like are pleasant and exciting for girls.
But boys after they are scholars do not much care for books about school
boys - they know their own world too well - they like real information, if
they must have adventure fiction designated as ‘books for boys’ Ballantyne
and Henty provide interest and morality.226
There was occasional advice on what adult readers might read on religion in the
interest of self education. Charlotte Yonge disagreed with John Ruskin’s assertion
that women should avoid theology. In order to teach their children, ‘parents
should imbibe good doctrine’. Amongst her recommendations were the sermons
of Charles Kingsley and ‘Bishop Pearson’s “On the Creed”... strong meat but a
really able woman would be all the better for it’.227
221
Battiscombe, Charlotte Mary Yonge, 146-147.
Charlotte Yonge, The Girl's Little Book (London: Skeffington and Son (f/p1893)), 38.
223
Margaret Mare and Alicia Percival, Victorian Best-Seller: The World of Charlotte M.
Yonge (London: George G. Harrap & Co., 1947), 234-235; Battiscombe, Charlotte Mary
Yonge, 161-162. For Anna Bramston, see Appendix 2.
224
Charlotte Yonge, ‘Mental Growing Pains’, MIC, January 1891, 42,45.
225
‘Books’, MIC, January 1891, 57-60, 57,58.
226
Ibid., 58. Tosh, Manliness and Masculinities in Nineteenth-Century Britain: Essays on
Gender, Family and Empire. Henty’s and Ballantyne’s manly Christian heroes’ adventures
had an imperial context; Susan Walton, Imagining Soldiers and Fathers in the MidVictorian Era: Charlotte Yonge's Models of Manliness (Farnham and Burlington: Ashgate,
2010).
227
Charlotte Yonge, ‘Church Catechism’, MIC, January 1891, 24-29.
222
235
Recommended reading compatible with Anglican Church views was also a regular
feature in the MUJ. The April 1902 edition recommended a selection of
missionary stories for children but regretted (following a reader’s complaint) that
W.T. Stead’s ‘Bairns’ Bible’ was not after all to be recommended.228 Mary Sumner
considered that parents should encourage children to find pleasure and learning
through good reading, both religious and secular. Advice on appropriate material
could be sought from the clergyman or schoolmaster and interest should be
shown in what children have read.229 She thought that good parents should read
for their own self education in order to teach their children and included girls in
her advocacy for education in scientific and technical principles:
Sensible parents will read up certain subjects so as to be able to ‘talk well
and wisely’ for the education of their children. A Father can help his boys
and girls to understand a great deal about the moon and stars ... or if he be
a mechanic, he will explain to his children, in simple language the
elementary laws of mechanics and some of the interesting discoveries of
modern times.230
Mary Sumner elaborated on the theme of reading for self-improvement and gave
a list of men of substance, who had made good despite humble origins through
‘healthy reading’.231 Her (implicitly ambivalent) attitude was that ‘good’ reading
might enable social progress and would not lead, if undertaken in the religious
home that accepted the social order as divinely ordained, to challenges to social
stratification.232 The encouragement of reading for self-culture was also promoted
in the GFS, which was united with the MU in its stance on morality. Both the GFS
and MU saw educational self-culture as an aid to the awareness of and interest in,
public affairs that they considered contributory to good citizenship.233
Suggestions in Friendly Leaves in an article titled, ‘How Working Girls May Help
Their Sex and Country’, for good ‘but not highbrow reading’, included Ruskin and
Carlyle. Mrs Henry Wood’s Danesbury House ‘promoted a warm interest in the
Temperance question’ and ‘on the lighter side’, for ‘it is quite impossible for
working girls to jump on the plane of elevated literature at one bound’, George
228
Anon, ‘Recommended Books’, MUJ, April 1902. The recommendation was regretted on
the grounds of the omission of key stories.
229
Sumner, ‘Reading’, 97.
230
Ibid.
231
Ibid., 92.
232
‘To Fathers’, 160-161.
233
Beaumont, Housewives and Citizens.
236
Elliot, Mary Craik, Charles Kingsley, Miss Yonge, Annie S. Swan, Miss Braddon,
Walter Scott and Louisa M. Alcott were recommended.234
There was an expectation that readers might contribute material for publication
in MIC. In 1899, it was resolved that writers of special articles in MIC were to be
rewarded with presentation copies of the edition to which they had
contributed.235 MUJ readers were also given the opportunity to submit short
articles but contributions had to conform to editorial scrutiny in respect of subject
and standards of literacy.236
The MUJ encouraged its readers to recognise the religious doxa as encapsulated
in the Objects and Rules of the MU through a mixture of advice and exhortation,
often via fictional examples. In addition to reading [Rule 5], Mary Sumner wrote
on a variety of topics, including marriage and ‘Mothers’ Work Outside the Home’,
of which she disapproved on the grounds that working mothers had neither the
time nor energy to fulfil their homemaking and educative duties.237 Parental
responsibility for their children’s religious education was prioritised. Mary Sumner
specified what children should know and how it should be taught in articles that
elaborated on the rules on the MU card, these included: Bible study [Rule 8],
parental example [Rules 6 and 7], purity [Rules 1 and 4 and truth [Rule 1]. The
MUJ gave ideas for teaching children religious knowledge, contributed by other
authors. The series, ‘Mother’s Teaching’ [Rule 8], ran over several numbers from
April 1902 and took the form of a question and answer dialogue between a
mother and her children on religious themes.238
234
Priscilla E. Moulder, ‘How Working Girls May Help Their Sex and Country, by a Working
Woman’, Friendly Leaves, March 1907, 112-114. The GFS had a reading union scheme
which required members to answer questions on recommended texts both biblical and
secular as noted in Chapter 4.
235
WDMU Committee, ‘Minute Book 1886-1910’, 20 Feb. 1899
236
Lady Jenkyns, ‘On Poetry’, MUJ, April 1903. 17.
237
Gerry Holloway, ‘'Let the Women Be Alive!': The Construction of the Married Working
Woman in the Industrial Women's Movement, 1890-1914’, in Radical Femininity;
Womens' Self Representation in the Public Sphere, ed. Eileen Janes Yeo (Manchester:
Manchester University Press, 1998), 173-177. Holloway gives context to Mary Sumner's
views and a working-class perspective on them as out of touch with the realities of
working-class life.
238
Anon, ‘Mother's Teaching’, MUJ, January 1902, 15-16. The series continued through the
year.
237
Readers were also informed on matters of health with topics including
vaccination, children’s clothing and ventilation. There was an overlap between
practical advice and moral exhortation which reflected eugenic concerns. The
January 1905 edition of the MUJ included the article, ‘Are we Growing Worse?
Gleanings for Mothers from the Report on Physical Degeneration 1904’.239
Ventilation was linked to temperance in the article ‘How wives are to Blame for
their Husband’s becoming Drunkards’. In addition to bad food, bad temper and
slovenly dress, badly ventilated bedrooms were suggested as a stimulus to
drinking.240 Temperance [Rule3] also featured repeatedly in the MUJ fiction which
took the form of cautionary tales. ‘A Dangerous Errand’ was typical: it recounted
the tragedy of brothers sent to fetch alcohol from the public house where they
taste gin. On the way home the inebriated younger child strays into the traffic, is
run over and dies, leaving the elder to vow never to touch strong drink.241 Stories
also illustrated the virtues of thrift and the perils of gambling.242
Articles in the MUJ indicate its conservative and moral perspective on social
issues. ‘Girls’ Professions’, a series that considered the advantages and
disadvantages of employment open to girls with Rules 1 and 4 in mind,
commenced in January 1904 with advocacy by ‘an old grandmother’ for domestic
service as a morally safe occupation. A subsequent article in the October 1904
issue condemned bar work as morally dangerous on the grounds that girls would
be exposed to the twin evils of drink and rough male company: ’We beg parents
to forbid girls becoming barmaids’.243 The MUJ did not discuss the choice of
occupations for boys but did comment on expectations of their behaviour and
239
‘Are We Growing Worse? Gleanings for Mothers from the Report on Physical
Degeneration 1904’, MUJ, January 1905. There was a conflation of moral and physical
failings which reflected eugenic concerns. It was assumed that both could be passed on to
the next generation. According to Mary Sumner, maternal neglect ‘is one cause of the
deterioration of the race in some classes’. See Sumner, ‘Mothers' Work Outside’, 131.
240
Lucy A. Hudson, ‘How Wives Are to Blame for Their Husbands Becoming Drunkards’,
MUJ, January 1902, 11-12; Mason, Home Education, 29-34.
241
‘A Dangerous Errand’, MUJ, April 1902, 42-43. ‘Camomile Tea’, January 1902, 4-7 and
‘Bobbie’s Halfpenny’, July 1902, 61-63 provide further examples of the temperance
theme. Recipes for non-alcoholic drinks were also featured.
242
Anon, ‘Three Scenes in a Woman's Life’, MUJ, January 1903, 5-7; Holloway, ‘'Let the
Women Be Alive!'‘, 175-176. Holloway comments on the assumption that working-class
women needed the advice and patronage of middle-class women who assumed the right
to impart moral and practical knowledge to their social inferiors.
243
MUJ, January, 1904. 5, 6.
238
training.244 Mary Sumner and writers for the MUJ were keen that working-class
men should receive the MU message. Wives were encouraged to exert ‘influence’
over husbands but some articles included passages directed at fathers.245
However, no such presumption of pedagogic authority over middle or upper-class
men occurred in the pages of MIC.246
The pages of the MUJ and MIC were a medium for pedagogic action in that they
sought to inform and shape opinion towards conforming to and supporting, the
gendered and socially stratified religious doxa with which the MU was identified.
Readers mis/recognising the doxa upheld by the MU were invited to identify
themselves with the pedagogic authority of the organisation as pedagogic
workers, via the Christian upbringing of their children for Church and country.
They could also share by association the pedagogic authority invested in the
foundress and other bearers of symbolic religious and educative capital.
Education matters in the Mothers’ Union and networking with
other agents and organisations
As the MU expanded, its educational activity also grew in scope. In 1898, two
years after the formal centralisation of the MU, Charlotte Yonge and Mrs (later
Lady) Jenkyns were made Central Council members in acknowledgement of the
significance of their editorial roles in MU publications.247 In response to the
demand for publications and their contribution to the income of the MU, in 1906
the Central Council appointed a literature committee, chaired by Lady Horatia
Erskine.248 The success of the MU as a recognised ‘brand’ is indicated by Porter,
Woodward and Erskine, who noted that an advantage of the legal incorporation
244
Sumner, ‘Purity’. The article collected in Home LIfe (see above) first appeared in the
MUJ October 1888, 25-26.
245
Ibid.
246
The addresses were reprinted in Home Life.
247
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 10. Lady Jenkyns resigned in 1919 after
31 years at the MUJ. The publication of the magazines was passed to the S.P.C.K.
248
Ibid., 113. By 1921, three sub-committees dealing with publications, libraries and
education had been established.
239
of the MU as a Church body was that it would allow redress against publishers, or
other societies appropriating the name of the MU.249
The MU worked to endorse the (Anglican religious) doxa by collaboration in
educational projects with likeminded groups and individuals in religious and
educational and philanthropic fields. Cooperation with the Bishop of London’s
‘Council for the Home Training of Children in Religion’, in 1907, marked MU
progress in the field of education and is noted by Porter, Woodward and Erskine
as the genesis of the society’s religious education department. The MU had
sustained aspirations to influence school curricula for many years previously.
‘How the Mothers’ Union May Help the Moral and Religious Work of Schools’ had
been on the Central Conference agenda a decade earlier.250 However, it was not
until 1913 that Mrs George Chitty was appointed Correspondent of the Religious
Education Scheme. The scheme sought to advise on a syllabus and to produce and
vet material suitable for religious teaching. According to the author of Fifty Years,
‘No publication is passed until it has been read and passed by several people of
responsibility and experience’.251
The similarity of the ideas of Charlotte Mason the founder of the PNEU, to those
expressed by Mary Sumner has been noted above.252 There was a crossover of
personnel between the PNEU and the MU at leadership level. Mrs Francis
Steinthal, who had given evidence to the 1909 Gorell Commission on Divorce on
behalf of the MU (as noted in Chapter 3), had been involved in the PNEU from
1886. She was noted in the July 1912 edition of the PNEU magazine, The Parents’
Review, along with future MU President, Mrs Wilberforce, amongst PNEU Vice
Presidents.253 The previous year, the appointment of MU representatives to serve
on the central council of the PNEU formalised this relationship.254 At the 1912
PNEU conference in Winchester, MU delegates included religious education
249
Ibid., 124. This was accomplished in 1912 and defined the MU as a Church body and
gave it legal status in holding property. It required a revised constitution and a single
membership card.
250
WDMU Committee, ‘Minute Book 1886-1910’, 22nd November 1897.
251
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 131-132; Mothers' Union, Fifty Years, 1920.
252
‘When and Why the Mothers' Union Started’.
253
Charlotte Mason, (ed) The Parents' Review, July 1912; .See also Armitt Library, Charlotte
Mason Collection: CM31 and CM51.
254
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 126.
240
Correspondent Mrs George Chitty and Lady Laura Ridding who chaired a lecture
session on voluntary work for girls.255 Two years later, in 1915, the MU held a joint
conference with members of the Headmistresses’ Association ‘with a view to
cooperation in the religious training of girls’.256 It was also sympathetic to the Girl
Guides, who in 1917, were considered to be ‘providing a wide and sound training
for the wives and mothers of tomorrow‘.257
The MU also drew on supporters with an expertise and reputation outside the
sphere of schooling (such as purity campaigner Ellice Hopkins) to advocate its
aims and methods via printed material.258 Ellice Hopkins’ Early training of Girls
and Boys: An Appeal to Working Women, first published in 1882,259 was reissued
in 1902, with the subtitle, ‘Especially intended for Mothers’ Unions. It covered
themes that Mary Sumner was to tackle in very much the same way. Mary
Sumner’s address ‘Purity’ from the MUJ of October 1888, mirrors Ellice Hopkins’
advice on separate bathing, the contrivance of segregated sleeping arrangements
for boys via the use of hammocks, preventing girls from mixing with loose
company in the streets and not sending children to the public house.260
MU Council member, Lucy Soulsby, noted above for her opposition to girls taking
degrees, had secured her reputation as the Headmistress of Oxford High, a Girls’
Public Day School Company establishment.261 She produced numerous pamphlets
on educational and religious themes including Stray Thoughts for Mothers and
Teachers (1897) and Talks to Mothers 1916.262 Her Two Aspects of Education
(1899) I Self Control and II Fortitude, Humility and Large Heartedness, advocated
255
Ibid., 68-69; Charlotte Mason and Henrietta Franklin, Parents' National Education Union
Children's Gathering 1912, Charlotte Mason, Armitt LIbrary: CM 23/CMC 158.
256
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 135.
257
Ibid., 143.
258
Morgan, A Passion for Purity.
259
Ellice Hopkins, On the Early Training of Girls and Boys. An Appeal to Working Women,
Etc (London: Hatchards, 1882). See Appendix 2.
260
Sumner, ‘Purity’. MUJ, October 1888.
261
Flint, ‘Soulsby, Lucy Helen Muriel (1856-1927)', An obituary by Mrs Hubert Barclay
appeared in MIC, July 1927, 160-2. Mrs Chitty also wrote in the Workers’ Paper the same
month.
262
Lucy Soulsby, Stray Thoughts for Mothers and Teachers (London: Longmans, 1897). Lucy
Helen Muriel Soulsby, Talks to Mothers (London: Longmans & Co., 1916).
241
notions of good womanly conduct in accord with those as asserted in the writings
of Mary Sumner and Charlotte Yonge and the publications of the MU and GFS.263
Figure 6: Mary Sumner and the Mothers’ Union Educational Practice.
Dissemination of organisational
stand point via other
publications
Headmistresses Association
Educational talks
for members
MU lending
library
Bishop of London’s
‘Home training’ RE
initiative
Education of
speakers
and
Associates
PNEU
Charlotte
Mason
GFS
The
Times
Lucy
Soulsby
Experts
Charlotte Yonge
Mary Sumner and the
Mothers’ Union
Educational Practice
Religious
Education
Scheme
Ellice Hopkins
‘Bad
Books’
Mothers in Council
Pedagogy
Campaigns
Literature
Committee
Writing by Mary Sumner
Childrearing
Views
Readers
contributions
Anti secular
education
Books
R.E teaching for
children
Recommended
reading
Children
Mothers’ Union
Journal
Temperance
Religious
Adults
Anti-gambling
Secular
Mary Sumner and the Mothers’ Union:
educational practice and strategies
Mary Sumner and the Mothers’ Union: Resistance to Secular
Education
In Mary Sumner’s writing the notion of promoting religious education was
expanded to encompass resistance to what she perceived as the encroachment of
secularisation into educational provision. Although parents should be the
foremost religious educators of their children, their responsibility extended to
watchfulness over other agents or institutions involved in the religious education
of their children. For Mary Sumner, parental influence could and should be
exercised to influence public educational provision.
The threat to religious education represented by the provision of nondenominational Board Schools and legislation on the status of voluntary
263
Lucy H.M. Soulsby, Two Aspects of Education (London: Longmans, Green and Co. 1899).
242
denominational schools, was the subject of MU campaigning. MU magazines and
publications were used to encourage parental support to promote the position of
the Anglican Church in the field of education and by implication to reproduce its
position in the wider field of power by associating its doxa with national values
and identity.264 Mary Sumner advised parents to ‘select schools [...] where the
Christian Religion is taught [...] in the forefront and not the background of
education’.265 In a letter to Lady Chichester, she wrote ‘win the parents for God
[and] they would demand their children should have Christian schools,
schoolmasters and teachers’.266
Mary Sumner’s 1894 article, ‘Secular Education’, exemplified her concern with
‘the struggle which is going on around us in the educational world’.267 It raised
objections to the limited religious education offered in Board Schools, claiming
that religion was made meaningless by the avoidance of dogma and that Christian
teachers were inhibited from professing their faith through teaching and thus
Board School teaching was drifting to secularisation. Mary Sumner warned that:
‘Every effort is apparently being made to advance this [Board School] system and
starve out the voluntary and denominational schools’. She urged mothers to
recognise and resist the ‘dangerous wave of infidelity lying behind the whole
question of secular education’. 268
The political dimension of the anti-secular education campaign was manifest in
the use of the MUJ as a platform to influence public opinion and mobilise support.
Its readers were of the class most directly affected by school provision for the
masses. Moreover, since their [partial] enfranchisement in 1867, working-class
men represented a category whose allegiance was sought by political interests. In
MUJ articles, men were reminded that they could use their votes to influence
educational provision.269 The MU welcomed the 1902 Education Act, which
secured the funding of voluntary denominational schools (that is those founded
by charitable donations such as the Anglican National Schools), by providing for
264
Divorce was the other key campaign, see Chapter 3 Religion.
Sumner, ‘What Is the Mothers Union?’
266
‘Letters to Lady Chichester’, n.d. (after 1910).
267
‘Secular Education’, 193-202.
268
Ibid.
269
1867 Reform Bill extended the franchise, subject to a financial qualification to include
many but not all working-class men.
265
243
the cost of running them from within local authority funds levied from property
owners as a ‘rate’.270 In April 1903,‘The Education Act a Word to Fathers’, sought
to justify the financial aid given to denominational schools ‘on the rates’, in the
1902, legislation on the grounds that the ‘sacrifice’ of volunteers, which provided
initial funding for these schools represented a substantial gift to the nation. The
superiority of denominational religious education was asserted: ‘It is only in
Voluntary Schools that steps are taken to secure one [a head teacher] who really
cares about the religion which he teaches’.271 The following year ‘Passive
Resisters’ (a term applied to objectors who withheld local payment of rates for
Church, or religiously endowed schools), reiterated the justice of supporting the
voluntary school rate.272 The October 1904 edition of the MUJ carried the article
‘Fathers Please Read This’, in which enfranchised men were asked to ‘insist on
your MP and your various councillors pledging themselves to a hearty support of
the Voluntary Schools’.273
Struggle continued over the religious content of the curriculum. Proposed
legislation in 1906, by the Liberal government (which broadly represented
Nonconformist and anti-denominational educational opinion), which would
transfer voluntary schools in single school areas to Local Education Authority
control (and thus end denominational teaching) was resisted by Anglicans (and
Roman Catholics). 274 Mary Sumner consulted Lady Frederick (Lucy) Cavendish, a
Liberal party sympathiser but stalwart Anglican, to discuss raising a petition
against it.275 The bill prompted articles in the MUJ: ‘The Bible in our Schools’, April
270
Moyse, History of the Mothers' Union, 70.
'A Member of a School Board', ‘The Education Act: a Word to Fathers’, MUJ, April
1903, 41-42.
272
Anon, ‘Passive Resisters’, MUJ, July 1904, 61. Murphy, Church, State and Schools, 66.
Passive resistance was a national movement amongst Nonconformists to withhold
payment of rates until the 1902 Education Act, seen as preferential to Anglicans (and
Catholics), was withdrawn.
273
Mary A. Lewis, ‘Fathers Please Read This’, MUJ, October 1904, 74.
274
Murphy, Church, State and Schools, 96-99. The proposed Liberal bill which was passed
in the Commons but blocked in the Lords would have ended the public subsidy of schools
with a denominational foundation and thus would have reduced denominational teaching.
275
Mary Sumner and Lady Frederick Cavendish, Correspondence, February 19th and 21st
1906: LPL MU/CO/PRES/5/5; G.C. Boase and H.C.G. Matthew, ‘Cavendish, Lord Frederick
Charles 1836-1882’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University
Press, 2004). [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/4932, accessed 28 Aug. 2013].
Lucy, Lady Frederick Cavendish was a supporter of education for women via the Girls’
Public Day School Trust and served on the Royal Commission on Education 1894.
271
244
1906, suggested that there was a danger of Bible teaching being dropped from
the curriculum.276 The same issue also included an extract from Mary Sumner’s
‘Religion in the School’ that similarly made a case for religious teaching on
denominational lines.277 In July of the same year, an extract from Mary Sumner’s
‘Responsibilities of Parents’ suggested that: ‘parents should openly resist
proposals to exclude elementary school religion’ because it was ‘a cruel injury to
the character of the child to have it as a mere extra’.278
Political views were also manifest in concern expressed over Sunday school
provision that highlighted Mary Sumner’s suspicion towards Socialism, which she
(and others of similar habitus), perceived as not only leading to godlessness but
in its advocacy for class struggle constituting incitement to overturn the social
order.279 Mary Sumner feared the ‘peril of Anti-Christian Socialist Sunday schools’
and the quality of Sunday school provision was the subject of a Lambeth
Conference resolution in 1908.280 In 1911, Mary Sumner returned to the theme in
her leaflet, ‘A Grave Peril’, which alerted parents to this encroachment on
religious education. The strength of concern felt on the issue in the MU is
indicated by the reprint of the leaflet in 1921.281
The position of Mary Sumner and the MU on secularisation was supportive of the
official stance of the Anglican Church. The resolutions passed at the Lambeth
Conference of 1908,282 which addressed secularisation, teaching of explicit
doctrine and the role of parents which reflected Mary Sumner’s agenda, are
indicative that her activism had been successful in positioning the MU, in the
educational work of the Church. This position in the overlapping fields of
276
Anon, ‘The Bible in Our Schools’, MIC, April 1906, 24-27.
Mary Sumner, ‘Religion in the School’, MUJ, April 1906, 36; Goodman, ‘Girls' Public Day
School Company (Act. 1872-1905).’
278
Mary Sumner, ‘Responsibilities of Parents’, MUJ, July 1906, 51.
279
Moyse, History of the Mothers' Union, 67; Lawson and Silver, A Social History of
Education.
280
Mary Sumner, Letter to Dearest Minnie, Lady Addington Anti Christian Sunday Schools.
23 Sep 1912: LPL MU/CO/PRES5/1; ‘Letters to Mrs Maude', 17 Nov. 19? MU/CO/PRES/5/3
[http://www.lambethconference.org/resolutions/1908/1908-14.cfm accessed 12 July
2013]
281
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 64.
282
[http://www.lambethconference.org/resolutions/1908/ accessed 12 July 2013]
277
245
Anglicanism and education was a vindication of Mary Sumner’s conviction that
the MU ‘could not possibly stand outside a battle for the children’s faith.283
Conclusion thinking with Bourdieu
Dispositions of habitus and horizons of possibility
Mary Sumner’s habitus recognised educational and cultural capital (frequently
symbolic) manifest in attributes such as appreciation of art and music, knowledge
of literature and languages or historical scholarship.284 Mary Sumner, as the
beneficiary of the interest of her antiquarian father and the services of
educational professionals, possessed many attributes which were recognised
within her habitus as indicative of personal cultural capital.285 These varieties of
capital were defined and upheld by the dominant social group (also possessors of
economic capital) who had, if male, access as a matter of routine,286 to the elite
institutions in the field of education dedicated to the reproduction of this capital.
Anglican manoeuvres in the field of education overlapped with manoeuvres in the
field of religion. The dominance it sought to uphold in education and religion was
marked by the high position of individual agents with pedagogic authority across
both fields. The Anglican Church also had the power to invest economic and
symbolic capital in educational institutions. Educational capital was both
authorised and defined by complicity with Anglican doxa and its recognition by
the social and religious elite.287 Mary Sumner and members of her network
demonstrated mis/recognition of this cultural arbitrary by accepting that
education was inseparable from education in religion.288 For Mary Sumner and
her network, behaviour considered undesirable indicated a deficit in religious
capital that could be redressed through education. The dominant group, to which
she claimed allegiance, saw themselves, by virtue of their self-defined superior
capital (cultural and religious), as authorised to provide education and determine
283
Porter, Woodward and Erskine, Mary Sumner, 64.
Bourdieu and Passeron, Reproduction. See Distinction for Bourdieu’s analysis of the
attribution of value to cultural products and practitioners.
285
Bourdieu and Wacquant, An Invitation, 119.
286
From the 1860s women were gaining access to ‘academic’ schools and university but
during Mary Sumner’s formative years this was exceptional.
287
See Bourdieu and Wacquant, An Invitation, 119, for overlapping fields and sub fields.
288
Bourdieu and Nice, Outline of a Theory of Practice, 164.
284
246
curricula, particularly for those of inferior social status, in an enactment of
symbolic violence.289 This pedagogic action towards upholding the doxa of the
dominant group was a means for the acquisition of symbolic capital and
pedagogic authority.
Assumptions as to the role and nature of women, asserted (and legitimised) by
Anglican religious doxa, informed notions of desirable educational capital for
women. In Mary Sumner’s network, the pedagogic role of women conforming to
the gendered doxa, as home educators of their children in morality and religion,
was recognised and accrued symbolic capital.290 Women might accumulate
pedagogic authority from pedagogic action to perpetuate the doxa beyond the
home directed towards social inferiors, both men and women. This could be
realised through philanthropy, an overlapping category with education as in the
mothers meeting, Sunday school class, or the men’s Bible class run by Mary
Sumner. Women in Mary Sumner’s network were recognised for their intellectual
achievements within the parameters of their discharge of home duties. In her
family and wider habitus, women could accrue symbolic capital and achieve
pedagogic authority in the public sphere through (intellectual) activity legitimised
by complicity with the religious and social doxa, such as in writing on religious
themes. In initiating the MU, Mary Sumner drew on existing pedagogic authority
accrued from her position in the GFS, educational parish work to men and women
and as a published author on the Holy Land.
Field manoeuvres
By founding the MU, Mary Sumner entered the field of religion: in so doing she
also entered the field of education. Educational manoeuvres may be seen as
significant in securing the field position of the MU within the Church and the
acknowledgement of the capital of women as educators and thus endorsement of
their pedagogic authority. The genesis of the MU occurred in the context of the
acceptance of female engagement in the field of philanthropic work.291 This
289
Bourdieu and Passeron, Reproduction, 5, 8, 9.
Ibid., 9, 5.
291
Prochaska, Women and Philanthropy.
290
247
allowed Mary Sumner and women of similar habitus, a means to move, via
philanthropy, into the field of education as an organised body.292 The 1870 school
board legislation extended opportunities for women’s participation in the field of
local political and educational policy, which had hitherto been available only to a
few women.293 This legislation also offered Mary Sumner an opportunity to exploit
a contest in the field of education to demonstrate the value of women’s
pedagogic action in support of Anglican doxa.
Mary Sumner’s emphasis on the acquisition of intangible symbolic capital through
approved conduct, characterised by reputation, piety and good parenting, rather
than the alleviation of physical want, gives emphasis to the educational character
of the MU. In her aspiration to modify behaviour by educating mothers in
childrearing according to religious principles and the production of material to
disseminate its message, the MU can be located in the sub field of popular
education. Its association with Anglican field manoeuvres relative to the provision
of schooling and higher education also indicates that the MU can be considered
within the field of education. 294
The initiation of literature and education committees reflects expanding activity in
these areas and can be seen as manoeuvres towards advancement in the field of
education and the related sub field of educational publishing. Whereas MIC,
which reached an audience from the socially dominant group, advantaged in the
field of power and endorsed by the doxa of the Anglican Church, was symbolically
violent in its perpetration of a gendered religious arbitrary, the MUJ, in its
attempt to secure the misrecognition/ complicity of the less advantaged to the
doxa of the Church, also perpetrated symbolic violence in relation to class.295 MU
magazines made a substantial and sustained contribution to the pedagogic work
of the Anglican Church.296 The use of printed materials enhanced the pedagogic
authority Mary Sumner had accrued by prior public speaking. Pedagogic authority
was also enhanced by the wide spread circulation of her name in association with
292
Mumm, ‘Women and Philanthropic Cultures’.
Bourdieu and Wacquant, An Invitation, 108; Joyce Goodman and Sylvia A. Harrop,
Women, Educational Policy-Making and Administration in England: Authoritative Women
since 1800 (London: Routledge, 2000).
294
Hurt, Education in Evolution.
295
Bourdieu and Nice, Outline of a Theory of Practice, 164.
296
Bourdieu and Passeron, Reproduction.
293
248
organisations (notably the MU and the Church, but also the GFS and CETS)
identified with attributes invested with high symbolic capital, including
motherhood, purity, temperance and piety. As in the case of platform speaking,
MU publications endorsed their authority by drawing in contributors with existing
symbolic capital and pedagogic authority, such as Charlotte Yonge, who embodied
religious, literary and educational capital, or Lucy Soulsby, who had achieved a
high position in the sub field of girls’ education. Collaboration on educational
initiatives with bodies such as the CETS and PNEU also endorsed pedagogic
authority in a mutual exchange of capital and pursuit of common goals.297
Fields and fields of power
Mary Sumner’s most overt engagement with the field of power in relation to
education was in the stance taken on the secularisation of education. Through
MIC, other publications and in particular through the MUJ, which addressed a
substantial working-class audience, the MU claimed the necessity of
denominational religious instruction in order to be fully educated. It asserted the
superiority of Anglican doctrine and thus its superiority over secular, or other
doctrinal curricula.298 MU publications, which expressed the views of Mary
Sumner, took a stance in support of the Anglican Church in its contest with the
state for power in the field of education.299 Articles sought to mobilise readers’
opinions in the choice of schools and in interaction with politicians. Education in
Anglicanism was also supported by exhortations to home religious education and
the provision of exemplars of Anglican doctrinal teaching. Whilst it is not possible
to evaluate the impact of the MU message on the secularisation of education, the
Anglican Church did gain concessions from the legislature on the inclusion of a
religious syllabus in Board Schools (1870) and LEA (Local Education Authority)
Schools (1902) and secured the denominational integrity of voluntary (Anglican or
other denomination funded) provision of elementary education. The MU’s
support for the position of the Anglican Church in the field of education worked to
297
Goodman and Martin, ‘Networks after Bourdieu: Women, Education and Politics from
the 1980s to the 1920s’; Fuchs, ‘Networks’.
298
Bourdieu and Passeron, Reproduction.
299
Postone, Li Puma and Calhoun, ‘Introduction’, 10; Bourdieu, The Field of Cultural
Production, 78, 121.
249
the mutual advantage of both organisations. The resolutions passed by the
Lambeth Conference in 1908, reflect the anti-secularisation agenda that Mary
Sumner had pursued through her publications for decades previously. The
resolutions also resonate with Mary Sumner’s agendas around parenting, the
pedagogic authority of women as individual mothers and also collectively as
represented in the MU, a recognised body in the Church. See Figure 7 Mary
Sumner and the Mothers’ Union Trajectory Towards Power in the Field of
Education.
Mary Sumner’s view of women as educators was entirely compatible with notions
of superior ‘womanly’ capital recognised within the Anglican Church. In return for
their mis/recognition of the superiority of Anglican doxa, MU mothers were
offered several symbolic ‘gifts’.300 These included identification with educational
expertise and the assurance of doing the best for their children by protecting
them from sin and thereby securing their future salvation. Readers could identify
themselves as ‘Churchwomen’ belonging to a moral elite.301 They might also
identify with the ‘Foundress’ as a celebrity recognised beyond the MU for her
pedagogic authority.302 More tangible rewards offered through the society’s
publications were education in aspects of childrearing, hints on the religious
education of children, advice on appropriate reading and engagement with, and
the opportunity to identify with, a body with a ‘voice’ beyond the home on topical
issues such as schooling.
Mary Sumner’s activism through the MU may be seen to contribute to, and reflect
modifications in, horizons of possibility relating to women and education.303 Mary
Sumner was supportive of aspirations for popular education and education for
motherhood, but the pages of MIC illustrate some ambivalence towards the
schooling and higher education of middle/upper-class women. This ambivalence
reflected a diversity of opinion amongst MU activists on appropriate curricula and
educational setting but activists did not challenge the gendered (and socially
stratified) doxic notions of womanhood misrecognised as invested with distinct
300
Skeggs, ‘Exchange, Value and Affect: Bourdieu and ‘the Self’’.
They might also have a sense of superiority associated with the assumed/misrecognised
capital of ‘race’ and ‘civilization’. See the previous chapter on mission.
302
Poupeau, ‘Reasons for Domination: Bourdieu Versus Habermas’, 71, 72.
303
Bourdieu, Logic of Practice, 20.
301
250
‘natural’ characteristics and contingent roles as helpmeet, carer and exemplar of
religious and moral sensibility.304
Mary Sumner claimed the value of maternal educative capital on the grounds that
mothers did pedagogic work for the nation in moulding the character of future
citizens. She also asserted the capital of mothering because it required expertise
that needed to be acquired through education, thus investing motherhood with
pedagogic authority. Mary Sumner also promoted the value of active mothering
to an upper-class audience and engaged them in the principles of childrearing and
educational practice. This, whilst not originally innovative, reflected developments
in pedagogy and evolving notions of childhood.
MU publications may also been seen in the context of the expansion of recognised
women’s spheres of interest and activity. They articulated a collective women’s
viewpoint on public affairs and also offered individuals (both professional writers
and amateurs) a respectable platform for articulating ideas in a public forum.
Whilst Mary Sumner and the MU did not make radical claims for women’s
education, they may be seen to contribute to some enlargement in the
interpretation of esteemed womanly capital and to the familiarisation of women
invested with pedagogic authority. Mary Sumer herself achieved unprecedented
recognition amongst a mass audience and in the field of religion as a pedagogic
authority.
Figure 7: Mary Sumner and the Mothers’ Union Trajectory Towards Power
in the Field of Education
304
Burstyn, Victorian Education; Gorham, The Victorian Girl.
251
252
Conclusion: Thinking Mary Sumner with
Bourdieu, Reproduction, Symbolic Violence and
Changes in the Doxa
The introduction to the thesis identified the aim of analysing Mary Sumner’s
negotiation of constraint and agency and her position in the upholding and
transaction of power across domestic, local and global spaces in relation to the
fields of religion, mission and education with gendered notions of womanhood as
a connecting theme. The conclusion synthesises analysis via the intersecting
thinking tools of habitus, field and capital discussed in the preceding chapters.
These placed Mary Sumner as an agent in networks of other agents,1 located
within a context of structures, that is institutions and social practice, that
informed her identity, understanding of social reality and horizons of possibility
and delineated spaces (fields) of opportunity for action. It draws on Bourdieu’s
concepts of reproduction, symbolic violence and misrecognition to position Mary
Sumner relative to agency and constraint, as dominated and/or dominating. It
also positions her in relation to the reproduction or negotiation of power with
attention to change or modification in gendered horizons of possibility accruing to
women.2
Mary Sumner’s acquisition of beliefs and notions of appropriate conduct as an
Anglican ‘Churchwoman’ illustrates the relationship of habitus, field and capital in
informing her horizon of possibilities. The capital recognised as of worth by agents
whose pedagogic action contributed to her habituation was delineated by the
fields in which agents were ‘players’ and to which they claimed allegiance.3 Figure
8 visualises these relationships, with some examples of capital.4
1
Yeo, ‘The Creation of 'Motherhood' and Women's Responses in Britain and France 17501914’; Martin and Goodman, ‘Individual Lives and Social Histories’; Cunningham,
‘Innovators, Networks and Structures’.
2
Bourdieu, Passeron and Nice, Reproduction.
3
Bourdieu and Wacquant, An Invitation.
4
Further examples of capital might be added and other fields such as education are
related to religion and the social field.
253
Mary Sumner’s life also illustrates how the possession of capital contributed to
advantage in field(s) (where it was recognised) for agents acknowledged as
possessing it. Recognised capital could be transacted to secure pedagogic
authority, the right to speak in and for the field. Pedagogic work by structures
(family, institutions) and pedagogic action by agents functioned towards
normalising recognition or misrecognition of the legitimacy of the capital asserted
despite its arbitrary nature. This assertion by dominant groups of preferred
values, behaviour and knowledge favourable to their interests, deemed by
Bourdieu the cultural arbitrary, involved the enactment of symbolic violence.5
Mis/recognition of legitimacy required complicity with symbolic violence on
behalf of the dominated group. Yet the enactment of symbolic violence was also a
variety of complicity because the arbitrary nature of the doxa (apparently selfevident cultural practice and understanding of social reality) is unrecognised by its
enacting agents and misrecognised as legitimate.6
5
Bourdieu, Passeron and Nice, Reproduction.
Poupeau, ‘Reasons for Domination: Bourdieu Versus Habermas’; Bourdieu, Logic of
Practice, 20, 58, 54.
6
254
Members of Mary Sumner’s network, which included religious specialists with
high field position in the Anglican Church, prioritised capital delineated within the
field of Anglicanism above that of religious non - believers, other religions and
other denominations. Men and women habituated to what they deemed to be
the superiority of Anglicanism, asserted the value of the rewards accruing to
complicity with its delineated notions of capital (such as doctrinal orthodoxy,
piety, chastity) and were active (according to gendered parameters) in field
manoeuvres to uphold it. This pedagogic action also served to further their own
acquisition of symbolic capital as delineated in the religious and social field in
which they were located and was thus conducive to self-realisation and
transactable into pedagogic authority. Anglicanism was advantageously
positioned in the social field and field of power because it was aligned with the
interests of the dominant upper/middle class to which Mary Sumner’s network
claimed allegiance and was drawn upon to legitimise their arbitrary advantage.
Thus for Mary Sumner, ‘Church work’ was an authorised and accessible sphere for
activism in which she could find support from amongst a network of agents with a
shared investment in (and possession of) religious and social capital.
Arbitrary notions of gendered difference accruing to women as a category, place
Mary Sumner as the object of symbolic violence.7 Mary Sumner’s organisational
activism commenced (c.1876) against the context of a predominant but contested
and defensive Anglican religious doxa that upheld and misrecognised as
legitimate, the advantage of a dominant patriarchy invested with religious
authority, educational advantage, economic power, superior legal status, (and
ultimately the means of physical coercion). Anglicanism, similarly to the majority
of Christian denominations, asserted divine authority to justify the arbitrary
gendered ascription of characteristics to both men and women. This informed
notions of desirable capital and legitimised contingent prohibitions and
expectations of role. Desirable attributes of Christian womanhood accrued around
the conflation of woman with motherhood and prioritised domestic responsibility,
sexual continence and submission to patriarchal authority. The misrecognised
authoritative and dominant positions ascribed to men were euphemised by the
notions of protectiveness and chivalry.
7
Masculine Domination.
255
Mary Sumner’s simultaneous positioning as object of and agent of symbolic
violence is demonstrated in her advocacy for chastity and the sacrament of
marriage and in her apparent complicity with patriarchal authority in family and
Church. However, ‘woman’ as a category was mediated by class which was a
significant factor in Mary Sumner’s horizon of possibilities.8 Pedagogic action by
agents and the pedagogic work of structures informed dispositions of habitus
complicit with the advantage of the dominant group. As in the case of arbitrary
understanding of gender, Mary Sumner accepted social stratification as ‘the
natural order’. Social stratification was also mis/recognised as legitimate by those
in the MU who were its objects and Mary Sumner enacted symbolic violence in
her assumption of authority over men and women of lesser social status. Yet, her
insistence on the distance between the ‘good’ women of the MU and GFS from
the deficit model of sexually incontinent women, and her insistence on the
distinctive contribution of women in the moral and educative sphere of home life,
may be interpreted as advocacy for an increased recognition of the capital worth
of activity assigned to women. In the context of the struggle for ascendancy by
interest groups, factions or denominations played out within fields, this may be
seen as a manoeuvre towards increasing, although within gendered parameters,
the pedagogic authority of woman as a category that would advance women in
the religious field. By founding an Anglican organisation, run by and for women,
Mary Sumner advanced the field position of women in the Anglican Church.
Through the MU, pedagogic action to support Anglicanism in its contest with
other denominations for ‘the goods of salvation’ was exercised.9 This duality
occurred across the inter-related fields with which Mary Summer was associated.
Shared notions of capital served to inform mutually advantageous activities within
and across fields and sub fields.10 Religion may be seen as the decisive element in
Mary Sumner’s habitus and the advancement of her preferred religious doxa
informed and responded to manoeuvres in the related fields of mission and
8
Scott, Gender and the Politics of History; Morgan, The Feminist History Reader; Moi, What
Is a Woman?, 291, 293.
9
Bourdieu, ‘Genesis and Structure of the Religious Field’; Practical Reason, Appendix;
Remarks on the econony of the Church, 124-126; Rey, ‘Marketing the Goods of Salvation:
Bourdieu on Religion’.
10
Keck and Sikkink, Advocacy Networks; Fuchs, ‘Networks’, Concept of exchange theory.
256
education that, like habitus, field and capital, may be visualised as overlapping
(Figure 9).
Mary Sumner’s preferred religious doctrine identified the symbolic capital to be
gained from evangelical outreach with the aim of winning converts through
‘mission’, domestically, locally and in more distant spaces. The use of ‘mission’ is
an example of the appropriation of language associated with institutions or agents
of distinction that is recognised as invested with capital. By using such authorised
language, Mary Sumner and others in her network claimed to speak for and
assumed the authority accruing to religion, of agents invested, by virtue of the
recognition of their capital, with distinction in the field.11 Drawing on the
distinction attributed to missionaries, the religious terminology of mission was
applied by Mary Sumner, those in her networks and others of similar habitus, to
legitimise the prescribed domestic role of women as maternal ‘angels’ in the
house, a position of complicity with the symbolic violence perpetrated by the
dominant patriarchal interest served by the doxa of Anglicanism. The conflation of
women with mothers in a dominant discourse of motherhood,12 allocated
symbolic ‘maternal’ capital to the respectable unmarried woman. The
11
Bourdieu, ‘Authorised Language’; Rey, Bourdieu on Religion.
Yeo, ‘Some Contradictions of Social Motherhood’.
12
257
appropriation of authorised language also ‘sanctified’ this maternal capital so that
it could be transacted as pedagogic authority for women invested with it.
Similarly, the term mission was applied to the symbolically violent imposition of
doxa through philanthropic endeavour, activity complicit with doxically framed
notions of the ‘maternal’ character of women. This appropriation of the religious
terminology of mission served to enhance the capital accruing to participation in
philanthropic activity that could be drawn on as a source of pedagogic authority.13
Mary Sumner’s association of the MU with Church work overseas supported
Christianity and specifically Anglicanism, in the competitive transnational religious
field. The sponsorship of women missionary workers who exemplified gendered
notions of desirable capital as self-sacrificing, valorous workers for Christianity by
the MU initiated by Mary Sumner, was instrumental towards securing their
position in the religious sub field of missionary work. This also served to secure
the field position of the MU as a body within the Church recognised for pedagogic
action in support of overseas mission. Mary Sumner’s field manoeuvre of
associating with women missionary workers as religious specialists invested with
high religious capital and contingent pedagogic authority enabled capital by
association to be claimed for women of the MU. Exemplars of ‘English Christian
womanhood’, capital attributes delineated within the Anglican field, whether
colonial settlers, transnational expatriates or women ‘at home’ could claim
pedagogic authority from upholding its doxa. This also served to advance the field
position of the MU by indicating the capital that members could share in by
association, so enhancing the desirability of belonging to it. Overseas manoeuvres
(as did those ‘at home’) also served to reinforce Mary Sumner’s pedagogic
authority by identifying her as the personification of ‘her’ religious organisation
and the capital invested in it.
Engagement in the religious field overseas intersected with manoeuvres within
the wider field of power. The Anglican Church sought to reproduce its advantaged
position in the wider field of power in the context of British intervention
overseas.14 Just as imperialists, who included Mary Sumner and members of her
network, notably Laura Ridding and Ellen Joyce, saw the propagation of what they
13
Twells, The Civilising Mission.
Porter, Imperial Horizons.
14
258
regarded as a superior religious doxa, as a legitimising rationale for the imposition
of a political arbitrary, the Anglican Church was reciprocally complicit with the
symbolic violence enacted through imperial rule. Through drawing on notions of
patriotism and imperial destiny, the Anglican Church sought to claim capital by
association and so to reinforce the legitimacy of the religious arbitrary and thus
revitalise the Church ‘at home’.15 Likewise, Mary Sumner and other speakers and
writers for the MU (and also the GFS) laid claim to the capital associated with
overseas endeavour. The rhetoric of patriotism and empire was combined with a
discourse of motherhood,16 to assert the capital of women as, in the case of the
GFS, ‘civilizing’ pioneer colonists or as emphasised by Mary Sumner, the maternal
educators of imperial citizens possessing superior moral capital and ‘race’
attributes. Whilst this manoeuvre was pedagogic work towards upholding and
legitimising national pre-eminence in the imperial field of power, it also served to
advance the field position of the MU.
Through the MU, Mary Sumner offered symbolic gifts (membership of an ‘elite’
category and ‘the goods of salvation’) to ‘different’ ethnicities complicit with the
Christian/Anglican doxa.17 This perceived inclusiveness was celebrated by Mary
Sumner as an indicator of its success. Yet, Mary Sumner enacted an implicit
embedded racialisation by conflating ethnicity and religious and cultural
difference into the category of ‘race’.18 Mary Sumner and members of her
network were agents of symbolic violence in imposing a doxa which prioritised
capital attributes that were predominantly located in persons also embodying
‘whiteness’. However colour was not the single arbiter of the ascription of racial
stereotypes as Mary Sumner made categorical judgements on European peoples.
Symbolic violence was not only enacted on ‘other’ religions, cultures and ‘races’.
Contrast with the religious, social and cultural ‘oppression’ of indigenous women
was drawn on to affirm the capital of the Christian woman and served to disguise
her own constraint by gender and class. Women ‘at home’ could draw, by
implication, symbolic capital from association with the superior attributes of
15
Ibid.
Bush, Edwardian Ladies.
17
Rey, ‘Marketing the Goods of Salvation: Bourdieu on Religion’.
18
Bush, ‘Edwardian Ladies and the ‘Race‘: Dimensions of British Imperialism’.
16
259
‘civilized’, ‘white’, Christian and ‘English’.19 For the upper/middle class, as
exemplified by members of Mary Sumner’s network, the assertion of symbolic
maternal capital in the context of an empire, with the matriarchal Queen Victoria
as its figurehead, opened a space vis-à-vis the wider field of power in which they
could be active and manoeuvre to advance their personal capital.20
Mary Sumner upheld religious (specifically Anglican) doxa in prioritising religious
knowledge and in considering educational capital of limited worth unless it
included a Christian religious dimension: the MU was educational in intent and
practice. Mary Sumner was an agent of symbolic violence in seeking to impose
conformity to the cultural arbitrary to which she (and others of similar habitus)
claimed allegiance and misrecognised as legitimate.21 Yet, in her insistence on the
recognition of mothers as educators and the strategies she deployed to enhance
maternal pedagogic authority, sources of empowerment for them may be
discerned.
Capital delineated in the religious field was transacted to authorise mothers as
participants in the educational field. If the habituation of children, claimed by
Mary Sumner to be invested with the symbolic capital of the highest order ‘as gifts
from God’ into religion was important, it followed that mothers needed to be
educated in order to accomplish this role. The notion that Christian capital was an
essential attribute for compliant citizenship (which transacted religious capital
into the social field and wider field of power), was also used to validate the
significance of mothers as educators. Mothers should be recognised for the
significance of their pedagogic action in upholding Church and nation.
Maternal educative capital, as envisaged by Mary Sumner, was vested in the
possession of the moral attributes and biblical knowledge of Christian
womanhood, delineated within the field of religion. Maternal educative capital
was also vested in the possession of the pedagogic expertise in childrearing. Both
aspects were asserted as sources of pedagogic authority. The pedagogic work and
19
Rendall, ‘The Condition of Women, Women’s Writing and the Empire in Nineteenth
Century Britain’.
20
Bush, Edwardian Ladies; Chilton, Agents of Empire: British Female Migration to Canada
and Australia, 1860s-1930.
21
Hurt, Education in Evolution.
260
field manoeuvres of Mary Summer were dedicated to substantiating and securing
recognition of these claims, firstly, amongst mothers themselves. A further
dimension of pedagogic action pursued through personal lobbying, public
speaking, correspondence and publications, was the education of the clergy,
fathers, and agents with power in the wider field, to recognise the worth of
maternal educative capital.
Mary Sumner valued literacy, varieties of ‘culture’ and intellectual achievement.
She used educational capital to validate maternal/womanly pedagogic authority.
Mary Sumner and the women activists she recruited to forward the MU classified
themselves as ‘educated’ and therefore authorised to speak for themselves and
on behalf of, the ‘less educated’ (a category which translated into working-class or
indigenous women overseas). MU publications drew on contributors likewise
invested with pedagogic authority. They included ‘experts’ in fields where women
were gaining access, such as educationalist Lucy Soulsby, moral campaigner Ellice
Hopkins and writer Charlotte Yonge. Contemporary developments in pedagogic
theory received a positive response. Mary Sumner’s emphasis on the capital
worth of children, informed an attitude sympathetic to pedagogy that envisaged
the child as a person and used positive strategies for reinforcing behaviour and
fostering learning. Through the pages of MU publications, mothers across social
classes were offered not only the affirmation of their possession of symbolic
religious capital but fellowship in a community of mothers. MU magazines kept
the attention of readers focused on missionary and MU activity in distant places.22
Mothers could also gain practical pedagogic advice and draw symbolic capital
from the notion that childrearing was expert work.
The use of printed media that educated informally through news, stories and
informative articles to a mass audience, locates Mary Sumner as a popular
educator.23 She exploited increasing literacy to promote her notions of desirable
capital and as a means to counter the perceived corrupting influence of material
considered ‘undesirable’. The scope of MU publications in circulation and spatial
distribution and as representative of the voice of a women’s organisation, may be
22
Thorne, ‘Religion and Empire at Home’; Watts, ‘Education, Empire and Social Change in
Nineteenth Century England’.
23
Wardle, English Popular Education.
261
considered as indicative of a substantial presence in the sub field of educational
publishing. The MUJ in particular was innovative as a special interest ‘quality’
publication devoted to the interest of working-class mothers.
Mary Summer’s prioritisation of maternal home education and informal education
may be seen as a manoeuvre to secure the transmission of Anglican religious doxa
against institutional encroachment, where religious doxa (if any) might not meet
preferred standards. An overt example of this can be seen in Mary Sumner
canvassing the support of mothers and enfranchised fathers, through the pages of
the MUJ, for the place of the Anglican Church in formal education. For Mary
Summer, the provision of state elementary schooling was a threat not only to
Anglicanism but also to the recognition of religious capital in the field of education
and the wider field of power.
Prioritising Anglican religious doxa also informed Mary Sumner’s attitude and the
stance adopted in MU publications to the expansion of curricula for middle/upper
class girls in school and the emergence of institutional higher education for
women.24 Formal education was largely approved (although with some diversity
of interpretation on appropriate curricula) if moral and religious ‘womanly’
attributes were not compromised. Whilst assuming the destiny of women was as
wives and mothers, in line with the dominant gendered arbitraries of Church and
social practice, education was agreed as desirable capital for the successful
accomplishment of this role and the participation of women in related ‘caring’ or
‘educative’ spheres was considered legitimate.
An understanding of agency as the ability to act (notwithstanding a degree of
circumstantial constraint) towards the realisation of (self-defined) goals,25 can be
applied to Mary Sumner and to other women within her network whose gendered
horizons of possibility accommodated, albeit within gendered parameters,
opportunities for the acquisition of symbolic capital and the exercise of a degree
of authority. Mary Sumner was richly rewarded with symbolic capital for
conformity with arbitrary, but doxically approved, notions of gendered religious
and social ‘womanly’ conduct informed by and misrecognised as legitimate in her
24
Burstyn, Victorian Education.
Aiston, ‘Women, Education and Agency 1600-2000: an Historical Perspective’, 1-8.
25
262
habitus. This symbolic capital gave opportunities for further capital acquisition
and delineated/authorised a space for ‘useful’ action/agency that allowed Mary
Sumner to move into the field of the Anglican Church and the field of popular
education. By working within notions of gendered capital delineated within
Anglicanism and transacting pedagogic authority from it, she was able to move
from the limited localised authority of helpmeet to a clergyman, to become the
iconic leader of a worldwide women’s organisation, which achieved an
acknowledged voice in the Church, a position in the field of popular education and
a distinctive presence in the social fabric of the nation, with a reach into settler
colonies and empire. Mary Sumner achieved recognition for embodying the
religiously sanctioned notions of capital she promoted through the MU. She
appeared to personify the rewards it promised for complicity with these notions
of good womanhood.
Mary Sumner’s activism was strongly facilitated by her network location in
relation to the field of the Anglican Church and agents with positions of advantage
within it (including her supportive husband George). Contextual circumstances,
such as the recognition of women in philanthropy, aspirations for education and
towards citizenship and the expansion of empire also framed her activism.26
However, in the rapid growth and extensive spread of the MU, Mary Sumner’s
role should not be overlooked. As an agent located between other agents and
structures, she was highly effective in her negotiation of horizons of possibility
towards realising her aims. In her ability to mobilise those of similar habitus by
drawing on, transacting and accumulating recognised notions of capital towards
pedagogic authority and field position, she operated as a successful ‘player’ in the
gendered fields of religion, mission and education, in which her activism was
realised.27 Mary Sumner also sustained her trajectory of activism over a
considerable period of time and the sources consulted assert her persuasiveness
as a speaker and writer, and ability to suggest the personal inclusiveness of her
message.
The degree of agency Mary Sumner achieved on behalf of other women raises
questions in respect of working-class and indigenous women, whose missing
26
Gill, Women and the Church of England, 63, 84, 91, 104.
Bourdieu and Wacquant, An Invitation, 120; Bourdieu, Logic of Practice, 66.
27
263
voices represent a gap in the evidence base. This limitation invites further
investigation. This absence reflects Mary Sumner’s assumption of authority over
and right to speak for, those of assumed lesser status. Not only were working
class and indigenous women objects of a symbolically violent imposition of doxa
but complicity with it accrued capital that was largely symbolic. However the
discourse of motherhood offered by Mary Sumner to women whose horizons of
possibility were framed by gendered assumptions and circumstances that
allocated them a domestic role was an assertion of its value.28 The MU also
represented mothers collectively in an authoritative Church organisation,
personified by a woman of distinction, which claimed a women’s voice in the
wider field of power. Membership numbers confirm that Mary Sumner’s MU did
appeal to large numbers of women.
Mary Sumner’s activism was located in a context of imperial expansion,
educational development, the contested orthodoxies of (religious) belief and the
negotiating of access to citizenship, mediated by gender and class. In respect of
women advantaged by class, the MU offered a field of action that built on the
accommodation of women as philanthropic and educational activists. It opened a
(sub) field for women with aspirations towards leadership and ‘influence’ on
religious, social and national life, which despite diverse positions held on the
franchise, translates as an appetite for power. Through the MU, such women
were offered an organised network of likeminded contacts and a platform for
their views. As speakers for the Church, they were invested with pedagogic
authority. Access, via an organised body, into the field of Anglicanism represented
a significant expansion of women’s authority and could be drawn on to legitimise
engagement in other fields, notably in relation to empire.
The use of Bourdieu’s thinking tools towards an analysis of Mary Sumner as an
agent temporally and spatially located in a network of other agents and structures
demonstrates that she was simultaneously an object of and an agent of
domination. As a woman she was categorically disadvantaged by the religious and
social doxa: yet through her misrecognition of its legitimacy and her complicity
with this arbitrary imposition of notions of gendered capital, she was able to
28
Moyse, History of the Mothers' Union. Moyse asserts the spiritual sustenance offered by
the MU.
264
accrue symbolic capital and transact it towards considerable pedagogic authority
and distinction in her field. Her position amongst the socially dominant group
alleviated, to an extent, the disadvantage of gender. In her pedagogic work on
behalf of reproducing the power vested in Church, class and country, she was an
agent of symbolic violence.
Bourdieu’s methodological approach and thinking tools are rooted in practice and
the scrutiny of evidence, ‘theory and data are in relationship to one another’.29
The deployment of Bourdieu’s approach has provided ‘a way of investigating the
link between lived lives and the choices in intellectual work with the context, both
institutional and social, that structures and shapes those choices’.30 Bourdieu’s
approach has enabled an analysis of Mary Sumner as a historically situated agent
negotiating constraint and agency. The notions of habitus, field and capital
applied to Mary Sumner as a central subject locate her values, aims and activism
informed by and mediated in the context of networks of other agents (such as
Churchmen and upper/middle class women) and associations both formal and
informal (the GFS for example) in a gendered horizon of possibilities. Mary
Sumner’s life trajectory illustrates how pedagogic action, by agents and
institutions (family and Church), informs habitus. For Mary Sumner, pedagogic
action gave her an internalised unquestioning conviction, that is mis/recognition,
of the legitimacy of the gendered cultural arbitraries of Church, class, nation and
empire that she sought to uphold through her own pedagogic action. For Mary
Sumner, there was a close accord with internalised misrecognised cultural
arbitraries and opportunities for agency and self-realisation through the
acquisition and transaction of capital. Her initial horizon of possibility allowed for
the acquisition of capital transactable for pedagogic authority and thus the
enlargement of her horizons of possibility.
Bourdieu’s understanding of field provides a way to envisage social structures,
institutions and spheres of activity such as the Church, religion, mission (as
defined in the thesis) and education in which Mary Sumner as an agent made
meaning and realised her activism. As sites of power, fields inform assumptions of
29
Gunter, ‘Education Management in England and Wales’, 624.
Gunter, ‘Purposes and Positions in the Field of Education Management: Putting Bourdieu
to Work’, 9.
30
265
value and belief and are sites where hierarchies of knowledge are contested and
meaning established. This is exemplified in Mary Sumner’s prioritisation of
Anglican capital; her manoeuvres in the field to promote it; her claims to authority
drawn from embodying recognised capital attributes and in her association with
agents and institutions invested with authority. Bourdieu’s concepts of
reproduction, symbolic violence and misrecognition, encompassing the imposition
of, and securing the recognition of, the preferred knowledge and values of the
dominant majority, allow the negotiation of power to be theorised. Thus arbitrary
ascendancies of power such as class and gender as misrecognised as legitimate
and negotiated by Mary Sumner can be accommodated within Bourdieu’s
theoretical stance.31 For Bourdieu ‘the logic of gender domination […] seems to
be the paradigmatic form of symbolic violence’.32
31
Bourdieu, Masculine Domination; Adkins and Skeggs, Feminism after Bourdieu; Krais,
‘Gender and Symbolic Violence’; Lovell, ‘Thinking Feminism’; Moi, What Is a Woman;
Scott, ‘Gender: A Useful Category’.
32
Bourdieu and Wacquant, An Invitation: 170.
266
Primary Sources
Archival Sources
Lambeth Palace Library Mothers’ Union Collection
Presidential correspondence MU/CO/PRES
Miscellaneous correspondence BOX 452
Printed Materials MU/CO/PM
Manuscripts MU/MSS
Central Council MU/CC
Overseas MU/OS
Church of England Record Centre
Mothers’ Union Journal (from 1888)
Mothers in Council (from 1890)
Hampshire Record Office
Diocese of Winchester Mothers' Union
WInchester Diocesan Girls' Friendly Society
Selborne Papers
Wickham of Binsted Collection
Old Alresford
Otterbourne
Winchester Memories Oral History Audio Visual Collection
Armitt Library, Ambleside, Cumbria
Charlotte Mason Collection
Works by Mary Sumner
Books
Mary Elizabeth Sumner, Our Holiday in the East (London: Hurst & Blackett, 1881).
267
Mary Sumner, To Mothers of the Higher Classes (Winchester: Warren & Son,
1888).
Mary Sumner, Home Life (Winchester: Warren and Son, 1895).
Mary, Sumner, Memoir of George Henry Sumner, D.D. Bishop of Guildford:
Published for His Friends by Special Request (Winchester: Warren and Sons,
1910).
Pamphlets
Mary Sumner, ‘A Mother's Greatest Duty’ ( London: Mothers' Union, n.d.).
Mary Sumner, ‘The Home’ ( Winchester: Warren and Sons, n.d.).
Mary Sumner, ‘What Is the Mothers Union?’ (London: Gardner Darton and Co, n.d
surmised after 1896).
Mary Sumner, ‘When and Why the Mothers' Union Started’( WInchester: Warren
and Sons, n.d. surmised 1888).
Organisational histories of the MU
Florence Hill, Mission Unlimited (Mothers' Union, 1988).
Violet Lancaster, A Short History of the Mothers' Union (London: Mothers' Union,
1958).
Mothers' Union, Fifty Years (Westminster: The Mothers' Union, 1926).
Olive Parker, For the Family's Sake: A History of the Mothers' Union, 1876-1976
(Folkestone: Bailey and Swinfen, 1975).
Mary Porter, Mary Woodward and Horatia Erskine, Mary Sumner Her Life and
Work and A Short History of the Mothers' Union (Winchester: Waren and
Sons, 1921).
Newspapers and periodicals
Friendly Leaves
Girls' Friendly Society Associates Journal
English Woman's Review
Hampshire Chronicle
Hearth and Home an Illustrated Weekly Journal for Gentlewomen
The Monthly Packet of Evening Readings for Younger Members of the Church of
England
268
The Times
The Parents’ Review
Additional Primary Sources
Books and Pamphlets
Arthur Rawson Ashwell and Reginald Garton Wilberforce, Life of the Right
Reverend Samuel Wilberforce, D.D: Lord Bishop of Oxford and Afterwards
of Winchester, with Selections from His Diaries and Correspondence [in
English] (London: John Murray, 1880).
Bishop of Willesden, New Dimensions: The Report of the Bishop of Willesden's
Commission on the Objects and Policy of the Mothers' Union (London:
S.P.C.K., 1972).
Angela Georgina Burdett-Coutts, Woman's Mission: A Series of Congress Papers on
the Philanthropic Work of Women by Eminent Writers (London: Sampson
Low, Marston and Company, 1893). (Facsimile reprint, Portrayer
Publishers 2002 ed).
Church of England, ‘Official Report of the Church Congress Held at Portsmouth’
(London: Church of England, 1885).
Christabel R. Coleridge and Charlotte Mary Yonge, Charlotte Mary Yonge: Her Life
and Letters (Macmillan & Co.: London, New York, 1903).
Louise Creighton, Memoir of a Victorian Woman: Reflections of Louise
Creighton 1850- 1936 (Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana University
Press, 1994).
Henry George De Bunsen, ‘The Bookhawker: His Work and His Day: Being a Paper
Read at the Conference of the Church of England Bookhawking Union,
Held at Derby, Sept. 21, 1859’ (Published for the Church of England
Bookhawking Union, Aylott and Sons, 1859).
Rev. Alexander R. Grant, ‘National Education’, in Principles at Stake: Essays on
Church Questions of the Day, ed. George Sumner (London, 1868), 109132.
Mary Heath-Stubbs, Friendships Highway: Being the History of the Girls' Friendly
Society (London: Girls' Friendly Society, 1926).
269
Thomas Heywood F.S.A, Sir Benjamin Heywood Bart and George Henry Sumner
Bishop of Guildford, A Memoir of Sir Benjamin Heywood ... By His Brother,
T. H. [Completed by G. H. Sumner.] with Two Chapters of Domestic Life
and Letters, 1840-1865 (Manchester : Printed for private circulation,
1888).
Isabel Mary Heywood and Sir Thomas Percival Heywood, Reminiscences, Letters
and Journals of Thomas Percival Heywood, Baronet. Arranged by His
Eldest Daughter (Isabel Mary). With a Preface by the Rev. George Body
(Manchester: Printed for private circulation, 1899).
Ellice Hopkins, On the Early Training of Girls and Boys. An Appeal to Working
Women, Etc. (London: Hatchards, 1882).
Charlotte Maria Shaw Mason, Home Education: A Course of Lectures to Ladies,
Etc. (London: Kegan Paul & Co., 1886).
Harriet Martineau, Household Education (London: Smith, Elder & Co., 1870).
Mrs. Maude, ‘Leaflet Number 4 for Subscribing Members’ (edited by Diocese of
London Mothers' Union, n.d).
C. A. E. Moberly, Dulce Domum: George Moberly, His Family and Friends (London:
John Murray, 1911).
Agnes L. Money, History of the Girls' Friendly Society, New and rev. ed. (London:
Wells Gardner, Darton, 1905).
Hannah More, Strictures on the Modern System of Female Education: With a View
of the Principles and Conduct Prevalent among Women of Rank and
Fortune (Printed for T. Cadell, Jun. and W. Davies, in the Strand., 1799).
Mothers' Union, ‘Brave Women’ ( London: Mothers' Union, 1914).
Mothers' Union, ‘To British Mothers: How They Can Help Enlistment’( London:
Mothers' Union, 1914).
Emma Raymond Pitman, Missionary Heroines in Eastern Lands: Woman's Work in
Mission Fields (London: S. W. Partridge & Co., 1895).
James Randall, Book-Hawking a Means of Counteracting the Evils of the Day.
(London: John Morgan, 1862).
Ethel Romaines, Charlotte Mary Yonge an Appreciation (London: Mowbray, 1908).
John Ruskin, Sesame and Lilies (Nelson: Hendon, 2000 (f/p1865)).
Lucy Soulsby, Stray Thoughts for Mothers and Teachers (London: Longmans,
1897).
270
Lucy H.M. Soulsby, Two Aspects of Education ( London: Longmans, Green and Co,
1899).
Lucy Helen Muriel Soulsby, Talks to Mothers (London: Longmans & Co., 1916).
George Henry Sumner, Book Hawking; as Conducted in Hampshire ( London:
Wertheim and Macintosh, 1855).
George Henry Sumner, ed. Principles at Stake: Essays on Church Questions of the
Day (London: 1868).
George Henry Sumner, Life of C. R. Sumner, D.D., Bishop of Winchester, During a
Forty Years' Episcopate (London, 1876).
Heywood Sumner, ‘Memorials of the Family of Sumner from the Sixteenth
Century to 1904’ (Southampton: 1904).
John Vaughan and Mary Elizabeth Sumner, A Short Memoir of Mary Sumner,
Founder of the Mothers' Union. [with Portrait.] (Winchester: Warren &
Son, 1921).
Charlotte Mary Yonge, The Two Sides of the Shield (London: Macmillan & Co.,
1885).
Charlotte Mary Yonge, The Girls’ Little Book (London: Skeffington & Son, 1893).
Charlotte Yonge, Womankind. 2nd ed. (London and New York: Macmillan, 1890
f/p 1876).
Charlotte Mary Yonge, Aunt Charlotte's Stories of English History for the Little
Ones (London: 1873).
Charlotte Mary Yonge, The Daisy Chain, or, Aspirations: A Family Chronicle
(London: Virago, 1988 [f/p1856]).
Charlotte Mary Yonge, English Church History, Adapted for Use in Schools, Etc.
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290
Appendix 1 - Mary Sumner and the MU: her
activities and corporate development
Year
Mary Sumner’s Activity
Corporate development
1875
Mary Sumner is a ‘Founding Associate’ of
the GFS in Winchester. Starts parochial GFS
Branch.
1876
Parish mothers’ meeting is distinguished by
cards for mothers.
Mary Sumner’s friend Mrs Maclagan starts
parish Mothers’ Union in Lichfield.
Speaks at the Portsmouth Church
Conference on her vision of a religious
society for mothers.
Canvasses support through
correspondence.
Presides over the Winchester Diocesan
Conference of the MU.
Deals with all MU correspondence and
enquiries. The MUJ is conceived as a
newsletter from Mary Sumner.
[The GFS is an officially
sanctioned Anglican organisation with
Diocesan
organisation and constitution]
This date is marked as the founding of the MU.
18831884
1885
1887
18881889
1890
1891
1892
1893
1895
1896
Addresses meeting to instigate the London
Diocesan MU and continues
correspondence and writing articles for The
MUJ.
Reads paper at Hull Church Conference.
Asks Charlotte Yonge to edit the new
publication MIC for ‘educated mothers’.
Winchester Diocesan MU under the
leadership of Mary Sumner considers
central organisation. Mary Sumner invites
Diocesan presidents to meet.
Leads Committee of Diocesan Presidents.
Her collected addresses from The MUJ
published as Home Life.
Becomes the official Central President of
the MU.
1897
Central President and Winchester Diocesan
President.
1898
Central President and Winchester Diocesan
President.
1899
Central President (she continues as
Winchester Diocesan President).
Central President and Winchester Diocesan
President.
George Sumner becomes editor of MIC
until 1908.
Mary Sumner Central President and
1900
1901
1902
Winchester Diocese adopts Mary Sumner’s MU
as official organisation.
First Diocesan Conference held in November.
There are 57 Branches 11 are just starting.
MUJ published, edited by Mrs Jenkyns
circulation 46,000 by 1889.
MU Branches in Ontario Canada and
Christchurch NZ.
Lady Horatia Erskine and the Hon Evelyn
Hubbard start London Diocesan MU.
Conference to discuss centralisation in London.
28 dioceses, 1,550 branches, 60,000 members
Discussions towards centralisation between
branches.
First Central Council, constitution adopted.
Office space in Church House Westminster,
London.
Royal patronage begins.
‘Bracket Clause’ exempts Scottish and
New Zealand branches from requirement for
officials to be communicants of Anglican
Church.
th
Feast of the Annunciation March 25 adopted
as Annual Day of Prayer and Thanksgiving.
Charlotte Yonge and Mrs Jenkyns
made members of Central Council in
recognition
of their editorial work on MU journals
MU Almanac sells 20,000 copies.
Annual Service in St Paul’s Cathedral.
Year of National Mourning for Queen Victoria;
Death of Charlotte Yonge
Empire substituted for England in Second
291
Winchester Diocesan President.
1903
1904 1905
1906
1907
1908
1909
1910
1911
Central President and Winchester Diocesan
President.
Central President and Winchester Diocesan
President.
Central President and Winchester Diocesan
President.
Central President and Winchester Diocesan
President.
Central President and Winchester Diocesan
President.
Insists on infant baptism and protests at
alteration of card wording by Australian
Baptists not in favour of this.
Chairs, speaks atand receives a standing
ovation at the first MU Mass Meeting at
Albert Hall.
It is addressed by her friends Archbishop
Maclagan of York and Bishop Lang of
Stepney.
Resigns as Central President; continues as
Winchester Diocesan President.
Diamond Wedding celebrations are
marked by MU and royal patrons.
Death of George Sumner.
Mary Sumner writes for advice concerning
an anti-divorce petition to Archbishop Lang
of York.
She signs letter of protest against
legislative relaxation of ground for divorce
addressed to Lord Gorell as chairman of
Divorce Commission.
Deemed Honorary President of the MU.
Continues as Winchester Diocesan
President.
Corresponds with Lady Chichester the new
MU Central President.
Lady Horatia Erskine visits Mary Sumner to
keep her in touch with the anti-divorce
campaign.
Honorary President and Winchester
Diocesan President.
Corresponds with Mrs Maude Central
Secretary of the MU and others on MU
matters until 1920. Continues to write
journal articles and pamphlets.
Object.
Protest against Parliamentary Bill to allow
marriage to deceased wife’s sister.
Finance Committee instigated.
Branches in China, Japan ,Persia
Madagascar and other overseas locations.
MU pledges to resist attacks on marriage.
Mission of Help to South
Africa following South African War.
Literature Committee established.
Religious education book scheme.
A representative of Central Council tours
Australia, New Zealand and Ceylon (Sri Lanka).
Pan-Anglican Congress - Mrs Oluwole wife of
the African Bishop of Lagos speaks.
MU hosts reception for overseas delegate
bishops and their wives.
Presidents informed of anti-divorce
campaignand forms for registering protest
circulated.
MU supports missionary worker in India- Miss
Rix of the Society for the Propagation of the
Gospel (SPG).
Mary Sumner is succeeded by the Dowager
Countess of Chichester.
Death of Edward VII.
Evidence presented to Divorce Commission
Mrs Hubbard speaks for ‘educated mothers’
and Mrs Steinthal and Mrs Church present
evidence against divorce representing working
classes.
MU becomes Incorporated Society to legally
protect use of the name Mothers’ Union.
Support for ‘Morality Bill’ to increase the age
of consent to 16.
Lady Horatia Erskine’s (a central Vice president
and friend of Mary Sumner) Golden Wedding is
celebrated; Representatives sent to Central
Councils of Women’s Church Work and
Parents’ National Educational Union (PNEU).
Literature Committee issues Coronation cards.
George Sumner’s memorial Buttress Fund
started.
Meeting to warn against dangers of
Mormonism.
Committee to oppose disestablishment of
Welsh Church, Mrs Gell and Mrs Wilberforce
preside.
292
1912
Honorary President and Winchester
Diocesan President.
Yields to pressure to revise wording of
membership cards.
1913
Honorary President
Winchester Diocesan President.
‘Great Northern speaking tour to Newark,
Sunderland, Durham and York.
Annual Conference hosted at York
by invitation of Mary Sumner’s friend
Archbishop Lang.
1914
1915
Donates Winchester Cathedral Buttress
Fund surplus to promote overseas work.
1916
Resigns as Winchester Diocesan President.
1917
Attends opening of temporary Mary
Sumner House opened by Princess
Christian and the Bishop of London
1918
1919
1920
1921
th
Death of Mary Sumner 10 August. Her
funeral in Winchester Cathedral is
attended by 4,000 mourners.
Laura Ridding initiates ‘Watch Committee‘
to give information and to advise on desirable
action with regard to legislative proposals in
Parliament concerning matters affecting the
welfare of the mothers of the nation.
MU invited to discussion of minority report of
Divorce commission.
MU Constitution which defined status as
Church Society and rescinded ‘Bracket Clause’
revised and published for workers.
Scottish MU opts for affiliate status to avoid
the
requirement for official workers to be Anglican
Communicants.
Church Mission Society (CMS) worker Miss
Davis supported in Southern India.
MU resolution against birth control.
Bishops asked for ruling- but their response is
indecisive.
Launch of Workers Paper Magazine.
Mothers’ Union Religious Education Scheme
First Official Handbook issued.
MU joint conference on Religious Education
with the Headmistresses’ Association.
Patriotic message of sympathy to women of
France.
Fund established for building ‘The Mary
Sumner House’.
Mrs Wilberforce becomes Central President.
Miss Lucy Soulsby attended as MU
representative the International Congress of
the World’s Purity Federation Kentucky, USA.
Mrs Russell Walker daughter of Mrs
Wilberforce becomes Central Correspondent
for Temperance Work.
Marriage Defence Committee formed to
oppose Matrimonial Causes Bill which made
three years of separation a ground for divorcethis was withdrawn but issue remained topical.
Mothers’ in Australia launched.
Inauguration of Naval Division of MU.
Church of England Zenana Mission Society
worker for Punjab Miss Gibson adopted.
Evidence collected on declining birth rate.
Anti-Birth control resolution.
Queen and Princess Mary visit Mary Sumner
House.
Mass meeting at Albert Hall 10,000 women
sign anti divorce petition.
Conference of Overseas Workers – over 100 –
many bishops’ wives from Lambeth
Conference at same time. 80 Overseas
Dioceses, 800 branches, 10,000 members.
Mrs Hubert Barclay elected as Central
President.
Diamond wedding of Lady Horatia Erskine
celebrated.
Concern expressed about dangers of cinema
and anti – Christian Sunday Schools.
293
19251926
Mass meeting. Worldwide membership
391,409.
Opening of purpose built Mary Sumner House
July 1925 by Princess Mary, Archbishop of
Canterbury and Bishop of Southwark guests of
Honour Princess Beatrice, Mary Sumner’s
daughter, Mrs Gore Browne.
st
Jubilee pageant June 21 1926 at the Albert
Hall service in Westminster Abbey
490.000 members worldwide.
Data from Mothers’ Union MU/ CO/Pres and MU/MSS; Porter Woodward and Erskine,
Mary Sumner Her Life and Work and a Short History of the Mothers’ Union; Mothers’
Union, Fifty Years; Heath Stubbs, Friendships High way.
294
Appendix 2: Biographical notes on women
activists
Anna Bramston (1847- 1931)
Anna Bramston, the daughter of John Bramston Dean of Winchester Cathedral (18721883), was active in the GFS. A friend of Charlotte Yonge, she became the first
Headmistress of Winchester High School for girls. Her sister Mary Elizabeth Bramston
(b.1841- 1912) also a Yonge protégé, was a novelist on religious and moral themes who
wrote for MU and GFS magazines. She took positions supervising school boarding houses
between 1875 and 1896 when she moved back to Winchester.1
Isabella Bird Bishop (1831-1904)
Isabella Bird Bishop was the daughter of an evangelical Anglican vicar. She travelled to New
Zealand and Australia in 1872. She also travelled to Hawaii and the published an account of
her travels in the Rocky Mountains in 1879. She married a doctor. After the death of her
husband the doctor John Bishop in 1876, Isabella studied practical medicine and during the
1880s and 90s travelled to Japan, India, Korea, Persia and Tibet, where she was involved in
medical missions. She was made a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society in 1892.2
Lucy, Lady Frederick Cavendish (1841-1925)
Lucy, Lady Frederick Cavendish, wife of Lord Frederick Cavendish, was a supporter of
education for women via the Girls’ Public Day School Trust and served on the Royal
Commission on Education in 1894. She is commemorated in Lucy Cavendish College
Cambridge.3
Christabel Coleridge (1843-1921)
Christabel Coleridge (1843-1921), the daughter of Derwent Coleridge a son of the poet
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, was a journalist and novelist. Mentored by Charlotte Yonge she
1
Georgina Battiscombe, Charlotte Mary Yonge the Story of an Uneventful Life (London: Constable &
Co., 1943); Georgina O’Brien Hill "Charlotte Yonge's 'Goosedom'," NIneteenth-Century Gender
Studies, no. 8.1. [http://www.ncgsjournal.com/issue81/hill.htm, accessed 21st August 2012].
2
Dorothy Middleton, "Bishop [Bird], Isabella Lucy (1831-1904)." Oxford Dictionary of National
Biography (Oxford University Press, 2005). [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/31904,
accessed 3 Jan. 2014].
3
G.C. Boase and H.C.G. Matthew, "Cavendish, Lord Frederick Charles 1836-1882." Oxford Dictionary
of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).
[http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/4932, accessed 28th Aug 2013].
295
was one of the ‘Goslings’ and was Yonge’s first biographer. Christabel Coleridge
succeeded Charlotte Yonge as editor of the Monthly Packet from 1890 and edited
the GFS magazine Friendly Leaves.1
Louise Creighton (1850-1936)
Louise Creighton was the wife of Bishop Mandell Creighton (Peterborough 1891,
London 1897). She was friends with Laura Ridding and Mary Ward and was
initially anti-suffrage. Louise Creighton was the first president of the National
Union of Women Workers (NUWW) (1895), was active in the MU and GFS and
addressed women's sessions at Church congresses. In 1901, she initiated the Girls'
Diocesan Association, her daughter Beatrice serving as its first president. She was
a prolific author notably of biography and as editor of her husband’s letters. She
served on the Venereal Disease Commission of 1913. In 1908, she chaired the
women's meetings at the Pan-Anglican Congress. She was involved in the Society
for the Propagation of the Gospeland participated in the Edinburgh World
Missionary Conference in 1910.2
Jane Ellice Hopkins (1836-1904)
Ellice Hopkins was an evangelical purity campaigner notable for her ‘rescue’ work
for ‘fallen’ women and her attempts to reform male morals through the White
Cross Army.3 She was a prolific pamphleteer and her Early Training of Girls and
Boys: An Appeal to Working Women, first published in 1882, was reissued in 1902
with the subtitle ‘Especially Intended for Mothers’ Unions.4
Hon. Ellen Joyce (1832-1924)
The Hon Ellen Joyce was the daughter of Baron Dynevor. Her son was the
incumbent of St Martin’s Winchester, where she lived from 1887. She was a
founding Associate of the GFS and active in the Mothers’ Union. She was an
exponent of women’s emigration and initiated the GFS Emigration Department in
1
Battiscombe, Charlotte Mary Yonge the Story of an Uneventful Life.
James Thayne Covert, ‘Creighton , Louise Hume (1850–1936).’ Oxford Dictionary of
National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).
3
Sue Morgan, A Passion for Purity: Ellice Hopkins and the Politics of Gender in the LateVictorian Church (Bristol: Centre for Comparative Studies in Religion and Gender,
University of Bristol, 1999).
4
Ellice Hopkins, On the Early Training of Girls and Boys. An Appeal to Working Women, Etc
(London: Hatchards, 1882).
2
296
1885. She founded the Winchester Women’s Emigration Society which later
amalgamated with other societies to become the British Women’s Emigration
Association (BWEA) in 1888. She was a keen imperialist and supported the
Conservative Primrose League and the campaign for a ‘White Australia’.5
Gertrude King (1867-1954)
A social worker and missionary, Gertrude King, whose religious beliefs were
evangelical and High Church, acted as the helpmeet to her clerical brother in his
parochial work between 1885 and 1899. In 1900, Gertrude followed her brother
to the French colony of Madagascar where he had been appointed as Bishop of
this missionary Diocese. Here, working through the women’s section of the
Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (SPG) she started the first branch of the
Mothers’ Union for indigenous members in Africa. By 1910, there were seventeen
branches with 1000 members. She corresponded with Mary Sumner and
pioneered the practice of linking overseas branches of the MU with ‘home’
branches, thus helping to promote the MU as a worldwide organisation and to
shape its missionary stance. On her return from Madagascar in 1919 she served as
MU overseas secretary and was influential in setting up the first overseas MU
conference.6
Lady Knightly of Fawsley (1842-1914)
Lady Knightly of Fawsley, like Ellen Joyce, a keen imperialist, was a prominent
figure both in the GFS (Diocesan President for Peterborough 1887-1905) and in
the Conservative pro imperial Primrose League (1885). She edited The Imperial
Colonist, the journal of the British Women’s Emigration Society (1902).7 Lady
Knightly also served as the president of the South African Colonisation Society
(SACS) an offshoot of the BWEA which was instigated in anticipation of increased
5
Julia Bush, ‘Joyce , Ellen (1832–1924)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford
University Press, 2006). [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/74348, accessed26
Nov. 2012]
6
Elizabeth Prevost, ‘‘King, Gertrude May (1867-1954)’’, Oxford Dictionary of National
Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012).
[http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/103386, accessed 3 Jan. 2014].
7
Julia Bush, ‘'The Right Sort of Woman': Female Emigrators and Emigration to the British
Empire, 1890-1910’, Women's History Review 3, no. 3 (1994); Edwardian Ladies and
Imperial Power (London: Leicester University Press, 2000). 68, 79, 194.
297
emigration after the Boer war in 1903.8 The GFS sent Lady Knightly on a visit to
South Africa in 1905.9
Charlotte Mason (1842-1923)
Charlotte Mason was the founder the Parents’ National Education Union (PNEU).
Charlotte Mason, a practising Anglican and advocate of female suffrage, was from
1874 to 1878 located in the Winchester Diocese as Vice Principal at Bishop Otter
Teacher Training College, Chichester. Her book Home Education was published in
1886.10 Home Education (which ran to repeated editions) was followed by further
volumes, Parents and Children; School Education; Ourselves; Formation of
Character and A Philosophy of Education. In 1891 she established her own
training college The House of Education in Ambleside Cumbria.11
Charlotte Annie Moberly (1846-1937)
Charlotte Annie Moberly was the daughter of George Moberly, head master of
Winchester College and later Bishop of Salisbury. She wrote under the alias of
Elisabeth Morrison and served as the first principal of St Hugh’s College Oxford
(1886-1915). She recorded a memoir of her father and family.12 Charlotte’s sister,
Edith, started the GFS in Salisbury when her father became Bishop there. George
Ridding, the next Headmaster of Winchester College, had been married to
another Moberly sister, Mary, who died after a year of marriage in 1859. He
married Lady Laura Palmer in 1876.The Moberly family were close friends with
Charlotte Yonge.13
Lady Laura Ridding (1839-1949)
Laura Ridding was the daughter of Roundell Palmer, First Lord Selborneand a
supporter of philanthropic projects. In 1876 she married George Ridding
8
Cecillie Swaisland, Servants and Gentlewomen to the Golden Land: The Emigration of
Single Women from Britain to Southern Africa, 1820-1939 (Oxford; Providence: Berg ;
Pietermaritzburg, South Africa: University of Natal Press, 1993).
9
Heath-Stubbs, Friendship's Highway, 160; Bush, Edwardian Ladies and Imperial Power.
10
Barbara Caine, ‘Mason, Charlotte Maria Shaw (1842-1923).’ Oxford Dictionary of
National Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004).
[http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/37743, accessed 29 Aug. 2013]. Home
Education was conceived of either in addition to schooling or as a substitute.
11
David. Wardle, English Popular Education, 1780-1970 (London: Cambridge University
Press, 1970). 92-94.
12
C. A. E. Moberly, Dulce Domum: George Moberly, His Family and Friends (London: John
Murray, 1911).
13
298
Headmaster of Winchester College, the successor to George Moberly, who
became Bishop of Southwell in 1884. She was an early GFS committee member
and instigator of the MU Watch Committee (1912). She was president of the
NUWW, gave frequent addresses to Church congresses and was a prolific diarist.
Pro-suffrage and a keen imperialist she was friends with Louise Creighton and
Ellen Joyce. Laura Ridding’s brother, Lord Selborne, served as Governor General of
South Africa (1905-1910) and his wife, Maud, was an activist in the Primrose
League, South African Colonial Society and the Victoria League. As their guest,
Laura Ridding undertook an extended tour of South Africa in 1908. Whilst there,
she kept a notebook which included reflections on social and educational issues
and ‘the native problem’.14
Lucy Soulsby (1856-1927)
MU Council member, Lucy Soulsby, noted above for her opposition to girls taking
degrees, had secured her reputation as the Headmistress of Oxford High School, a
Girls’ Public Day School Company establishment.15 She sat on the council of Lady
Margaret Hall and opposed girls’ access to the Oxford degree in 1895, the only
Girls’ Public Day School Company Head to do so. Soulsby also signed Mrs
Humphrey Ward’s anti-suffrage petition in 1889. Lucy Soulsby produced
numerous pamphlets on educational and religious themes including Stray
Thoughts for Mothers and Teachers (1897) and Talks to Mothers (1916).16 Her Two
Aspects of Education (1899) I Self Control and II Fortitude, Humility and Large
Heartedness, advocated notions of good womanly conduct in accord with those
asserted in the writings of Mary Sumner and Charlotte Yonge and the publications
of the MU and GFS.
14
Lady Laura Ridding. South African Note Book. Selborne Papers, Hampshire Record Office
9M68/61. December 1908; Serena Kelly, ‘Ridding, Lady Laura Elizabeth (1849–1939)’, in
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).
15
Kate Flint, ‘Soulsby, Lucy Helen Muriel (1856-1927)’, Oxford Dictionary of National
Biography (Oxford University Press, 2004).
[http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/48573, 21 June 2013]. An obituary by Mrs
Hubert Barclay appeared in MIC, July 1927, 160-2.
16
Lucy Soulsby, Stray Thoughts for Mothers and Teachers (London: Longmans, 1897). Lucy
Helen Muriel Soulsby, Talks to Mothers (London: Longmans & Co., 1916).
299
Mary Townsend (1841-1918)
Mary Townsend the ‘Foundress’ of the GFS was the wife of a landed gentleman.
Her friendship with Bishop Samuel Wilberforce was the catalyst for the initiation
of the GFS, which aimed to protect the chastity of working women in the
Winchester diocese in 1874. She recruited Mary Sumner, Charlotte Yonge and
Ellen Joyce as Founding Associates.17
Elizabeth Wordsworth (1840-1932)
Elizabeth Wordsworth, the daughter of Christopher Wordsworth, the Headmaster
of Harrow School and Bishop of Lincoln (1868), was the first principal of the
Oxford women’s college Lady Margaret Hall from 1878 to 1909. Her commitment
to women’s education was based on the assumption that educated women would
be better wives, mothers and churchwomen. In 1870, she met Charlotte Yonge
and they remained lifelong friends.18
Charlotte Yonge (1823-1901)
Charlotte Yonge was a prolific novelist, author of religious and historical text
books and editor of The Monthly Packet (until 1890). She served the GFS as
Winchester Diocesan Head of Literature until 1900 and contributed to GFS
publications. Charlotte Yonge edited the MU’s Mothers in Council from 18911901.19 Her novels , which she conceived of ‘as a sort of instrument for
popularising Church Views’ reflect her religious motivation and can be interpreted
as evangelical in intent. Her spiritual mentor was John Keble, a founder of the
1833 Tractarian Movement.20 Charlotte Yonge’s enthusiasm for foreign missions
was exemplified by her financial support for the missionary ship ‘Southern Cross’
in 1854 and her 1875 biography of her relative, the martyred Missionary Bishop,
17
G. M Harris, ‘Townsend , Mary Elizabeth (1841–1918).’ Oxford Dictionary of National
Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004); Brian Harrison, ‘For Church Queen and
Family; the Girls’ Friendly Society 1874-1920’, Past and Present 61(1973).
18
Frances Lannon, ‘‘Wordsworth, Dame Elizabeth (1840-1932)’’, Oxford Dictionary of
National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).
[http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/37024, accessed 3 Jan. 2014]; Ethel Romaines,
Charlotte Mary Yonge an Appreciation (London: Mowbray, 1908).
19
Heath-Stubbs, Friendships Highway, 6.
20
Battiscombe, Charlotte Mary Yonge the Story of an Uneventful Life: 15. Charlotte Yonge
quoted in Introduction by E.M Delafield; Elisabeth Jay, ‘Yonge, Charlotte Mary (1823–
1901).’ Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).
300
John Coleridge Patteson of Melanesia.21 Charlotte Yonge also included missionary
themes in her fiction, where she gives a role to women as helpmeets and teachers
in the missionary enterprise. New Ground (1868) also made distinct the
superiority of Christian (rather than White or English) treatment of the ‘native
Kaffirs’.22 Her 1856 novel, The Daisy Chain, affirmed the spiritual status of the
character Norman May by awarding him a missionary vocation in which he is to be
supported by his loyal bride Meta. Ethel May, the central character of the book,
observes that together ‘they will make a noble missionary!’23 The book also
exemplifies a higher life of service, one open to Ethel, who has relinquished
aspirations for wider horizons due to the claims of home duty, yet gains fulfilment
through teaching and fundraising for the establishment of a Church, in a
‘missionary’ venture in a local industrial area. Through The Monthly Packet and
the more select privately circulated Barnacle, Charlotte Yonge acted as mentor to
young women aspiring to write, including Christabel Coleridge and Anna and Mary
Bramston. She was friends with Elizabeth Wordsworth and the Moberly family.
21
Battiscombe, Charlotte Mary Yonge the Story of an Uneventful Life: 90-91; Romaines,
Charlotte Mary Yonge an Appreciation: 115-127. Romaines notes Charlotte Yonge's 1871
study of missionary lives 'Pioneers and Founders'; Charlotte Yonge, Life of John Coleridge
Patteson Missionary Bishop of the Melanesian Islands (London: Macmillan, 1875).
22
New Ground (London: J. and C. Mozeley, 1868).
23
Charlotte Mary Yonge, The Daisy Chain; or, Aspirations. A Family Chronicle. By the
Author of the Heir of Redclyffe, Etc. (London: John W. Parker & Son, 1856). 566.
301